One of the greatest pleasures in life is eating good food. But it’s not just your senses or your stomach that takes in that pleasure. Apparently, certain foods have a positive effect on your mood and it’s not psychological. This kind of happiness is not just in your mind; it’s literally in your brain. Backed by scientific data, it has been found that some compounds in your food serve as precursors to neurotransmitters chemicals that are utilized by the brain as communication signals to relay actions and sensations to different parts of the body. These neurotransmitters are also involved in the brain’s process of regulating our moods. Among the many kinds of neurotransmitters, three have been studied to affect our moods: serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.
Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that is mostly connected to happiness as it gives a soothing and relaxing effect to the body. High levels of serotonin also result to improved sleep and better tolerance for pain. On the other hand, a decreased level of this “happy” neurotransmitter is linked to insomnia, depression, food cravings, and aggression. Substances found in food that enhance the brain’s production of serotonin include folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12, and the amino acid tryptophan.
Opposite to serotonin’s calming effect is the stimulating effect of neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. High levels of these neurotransmitters result to feeling more alert and more motivated. In contrast, decreased levels result to feeling depressed and irritable. Compounds in food that are vital to the production of dopamine and norepinephrine include magnesium and the amino acid tyrosine.
Now that you know a little bit about these mood neurotransmitters, it’s time to find out what food to eat to get the most out of these happy brain chemicals. Read on the following infographic to find out which food will boost your mood.
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