Want to boost your mood? Start with your food.

Dopamine Efficient Foods to Improve Your Mood

As random as they seem sometimes, our moods are mapped out:

They’re driven by neurotransmitters, chemicals that are made from amino acids, which come from protein.  

Today’s diets can be full of “empty calories” —foods that lack fiber, complex carbs, protein and healthy fats. These proteins, vitamins and minerals are the key factors in production of those mood-driving neurotransmitters. 

On the other hand, protein-rich foods (like chicken, fish, beef, and tofu, eggs) increase dopamine and norepinephrine, which can affect your mood, motivation and concentration, and brightly colored fruits and veggies are high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that boost happiness. 

But mood is more than just about food. Endorphins from exercise, laughing and sex also improve our mood. 

Sleep is also critical for mood: poor or inadequate sleep can cause irritability and stress, and chronic insomnia may increase the risk of developing anxiety or depression — while healthy sleep can enhance well-being. 7 to 9 hours of sleep are critical for overall health – if you’re not making time for adequate sleep, it can create weight gain, unpleasant mood changes reduced immunity, poor skin health – the list goes on.

So what can you do to support healthy sleep habits?

Our core body temp drops when we sleep — our bodies like to sleep in a cool room (think 65-67 degrees F). We also need our bodies to produce melatonin, which is driven by dark/light cycles. So it’s important to get out in the daylight to shut down production, and retreat to a nice dark room to turn it on. Eating, drinking alcohol or having caffeine too late in the day are common contributors to poor sleep. 

Foods best for gut health

Our microbiome is constantly evolving. While much of the microbiome remains constant throughout our lifetime, you can boost it — and your gut health — with your diet. Transient dietary changes (like going on vacation and switching up your eating routine) result in subtle changes in the microbiome, while your everyday eating habits have the greatest impact. Medications (antibiotics), genetics, and breastfeeding all impact the microbiome as well.

The good news? By eating a whole foods diet MOST OF THE TIME (no, you don’t have to be perfect), you can build a healthy microbiome – and see long-term benefits (short-term too: gut microbes are extensively and regularly purged and have the ability to double in number within one hour!)

Besides eating well, can you do on a daily basis to positively affect your microbiome? You might see a trend by now…. Fiber fiber fiber! Specifically whole grains and plant-based foods. Meat is an excellent source of protein, though it does not improve our microbiome in the same way as plant-based foods. 

Limit these foods that are bad for the gut: Refined carbohydrates, ultra-processed foods, and foods high in saturated or trans fat. 

Limit your meat consumption, too. The Mediterranean diet (think fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, fish, chicken, with limited red meat) has the best benefit for our bacteria. 

Prebiotic foods (those that provide fuel for the gut bugs) are a great way to encourage healthy microbiome — so savor that sauerkraut!

Certain medical conditions may be associated with unhealthy balance of gut microbes. Diabetes, heart disease, irritable bowel syndrome and skin inflammation are a few. But exercise, getting good sleep and yep, a healthy whole foods diet can turn these things around. 

Foods good for your digestive system

Our bodies need food to run all the systems that keep us going. And we’re not just talking about what we eat, but also when and how. We are a nation of snackers. Our bodies aren’t meant to be taking in food at all hours of the day. Did you know our colonic bacteria have a circadian rhythm, just like we do?  

There is a lot of research going into intermittent and prolonged nightly fasting. Part of the success with this eating pattern is reducing the time span in which you eat for the day, which gives the gut time to follow the complete process of digestion before you eat food and start the process again.

What else can we do to improve our daily digestive process? First, shorten your eating window to an 8-12 hour period (meaning you would eat from 8am to 8pm, but nothing but water in the 8pm to 8am window). 

Another tip: Take 3-4 hours between meals to allow the digestive process to do its thing before loading up on more food. Your body has a natural peristalsis (called the migratory motor complex) which pushes food through the GI tract so it can digest and absorb all those mood-boosting nutrients. 

Are you looking to jumpstart your mental well-being?

We are obsessed with helping everyone reach their fullest potential through feel-good probiotics. Our Mood product with its four probiotic strains will regulate your mood by supporting your body’s production of serotonin. In addition, it contains Vitamins D3, B6, and B12 – all essential for brain health – to help with feelings of stress, fatigue, trouble sleeping, and lack of focus. It also has L-theanine which promotes physical and mental relaxation. Hands up for happiness! 

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