Sometimes your feeling unhappy has nothing to do with your circumstances, but everything to do with what you are (or not) plating. Yes, there are clearly some happy nutrients and happy foods, deficiency of which can send you down the blue lane. And eating them consciously can have a very positive effect on your mood.
Eat these more often to make 2019 happier.
It tastes bitter but it’s exactly what you need to stay super healthy and depression free. It is thanks to the much feted compound curcumin in it, which helps lift levels of neuro-chemicals like norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin – and make us happier as a result. Researchers now believe curcumin provides a safe and effective alternative to anti-depressant medication minus its side effects. Yes, it’s that effective.
How to eat: Sip it as an infused tea, or sprinkle liberally onto culinary dishes daily. In fact, I’d say include it in your breakfast somehow to begin the day just right.
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Walnuts are a rare vegetarian source of mood-boosting omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient our body needs to fight off inflammation in the brain, which leads to depression. Besides it is common news that patients with significant depression levels suffer from lower levels of DPA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentanoic acid), type of omega 3s, and both of these can be replenished effectively via walnuts which are loaded with them. They also deliver a lot of magnesium, another happy nutrient.
How to eat: Walnuts are a wonderful any-time snack but I’d say just pop in a few halves regularly before bedtime as walnut also tends to increase melatonin (a hormone that regulates sleep) in the body. And good sleep is a prerequisite for staying happy too.
Not many people know that guavas are loaded with vitamin C; they contain four times the vitamin C than oranges. Now, besides being an effective immunity booster and an anti-ageing agent for our skin and collagen, vitamin C is an effective natural anti-depressant too. That’s because Vitamin C is extremely important for functioning of brain’s blood vessels, nerve cells, neurotransmitters, and is also linked to the production of stress hormones in our adrenal glands. That’s why people who have vitamin C deficiency often feel fatigued or depressed.
How to eat: Bite into a fruit rick in vitamin C every day when they are in season, and remember it is important to eat the peel and the flesh just underneath its outer thick rind as this portion contains exceptionally high levels of vitamin C.
There are actually two kinds of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) – desi (Bengal gram or kala chana) and kabuli (safed chana) and both are nutrition powerhouses. And good news is that they are both loaded with happy mood B vitamins: vitamin B1, or thiamine, which promotes brain and nervous system health, and folate (B9) and B6, pyridoxin, which helps regulate mood by helping the body make the happiness hormones serotonin and norepinephrine.
How to eat: Make curries, add them to salads and soups, roast them (drizzle olive oil, roast at 400 F for 30/40 minutes, add salt) and try hummus and falafel. Aim for at least half a cup of cooked chickpeas (alternating between both) thrice a week at least.
They have a slight crunch, interesting green colour, and nutty flavour and come from the humble pumpkin. Besides iron and magnesium, they deliver a lot of zinc, whose influence on mood is very well known. Zinc modulates brain functions like appetite, sleep, cognitive function and mood. Plus, they are highly concentrated in an amino acid called tryptophan, which helps lower anxiety levels and keep us calm.
How to eat: Target eating 1 tbsp every day. Just roast them, mix them up, snack on them, sprinkle them over cereals, bhelpuri, scrambled eggs or add a tbsp to your milk/yogurt and fruit smoothie. Add to traditional drinks like thandai and khus, and salad dressings.
(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don't Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico) and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa))