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Try eating these foods to improve your mood

The reason some dishes like meatloaf and chicken soup have earned the title of “comfort food” is that they awaken a pleasant memory when you eat them. This food-mood connection between an emotion and food has gained much attention recently, inspiring new terms like “hangry,” that feeling of being hungry that can accompany anger. Eating when stressed or not eating when depressed are just two of the many connections between mood and food currently being explored by scientists. Although the research is not yet complete, there are some logical connections between food and mood that can be made.

Feeding the brain
Your brain is always on the job taking care of your thoughts, movement, heartbeat, breathing and everything else. In order to do its job, the brain needs a steady supply of fuel. When you eat quality foods with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, the brain is able to function well. In contrast, when your diet is poor, the brain is not able to function as well, which in turn can affect your mood.

What’s in your stomach?
One of the important factors in a healthy body is serotonin, the neurotransmitter that regulates sleep, appetite, mood and deals with pain. About 95% of the body’s serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract. In addition, your gastrointestinal tract is lined with millions of nerve cells known as neurons that help you digest food and guide your emotions. The functions of these neurons are aided by the presence of  good bacteria which breaks down food and releases nutrients. Good bacteria also helps the body deal with toxins and bad bacteria that cause infections and illness. This bad bacteria can come from the food, environmental toxins and stress. When the bad bacteria level is too high, the body does not function properly and mood is affected. When there is an ample amount of good bacteria, the body absorbs nutrients and activates those neural pathways up to the brain. Making sure there is more good bacteria than bad bacteria is important for good physical and mental health.

Mood boosters
Protein found in eggs, poultry, seafood, tofu, and low-fat Greek yogurt is a good mood booster. When you add protein to your meal, the absorption of carbohydrates in your blood is slowed down, giving you longer lasting energy. Protein also increases the release of dopamine and norepinephrine, two important neurotransmitters that can improve your mood.

Vitamins found in foods can also be mood boosters. Try adding vitamin-rich foods like broccoli, lentils, oatmeal, oranges, dark leafy green and salmon to your diet. These foods have been found to also ease depression. Fruits and vegetables in general are good additions for a mood boosting diet.

Fiber is another important player in the food mood connection. Complex carbohydrates contain soluble fiber that slows down the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream while increasing the amount of serotonin, a key chemical for improving mood. The combined actions of slowing sugar absorption and releasing serotonin reduces the tendency to have mood swings. So, add fiber rich foods to your menu including oats, beans, pears and peas.

Mood busters
Refined carbohydrates are the bad guys to avoid. Candy, soda, syrup, jam and other high sugar foods can cause your blood sugar to rise and fall quickly and leave you with a cranky feeling. Refined starches found in foods like white rice, white bread and crackers will produce the same sugar spike. Try to eliminate or at least limit the consumption of these foods.

Think before you eat
Give some thought to the connection between what you eat and how you feel. When you feel unhappy or just uncomfortable, think about what you ate during the last few meals. Then try cutting out processed foods and sugar for a  few days and see how you feel. When you think about the connection,  you will begin to see which foods improve your mood and which foods cause issues. So, although that huge chocolate sundae tasted amazing, the mood swings and discomfort during the next day might make you think twice about indulging again.

A time for extra attention
Food is fuel for the body. It is imperative that nutritious meals are eaten regularly to keep everything in balance. However, this can be challenging during a time of recovery when energy levels are low and the body is stressed. Having enough nutrients, fiber and protein to promote healing may help shorten recovery time and reduce the chances of feeling depressed. This is one of the many reasons people choose to spend time in a short-term care facility following surgery or a hospital stay. When there are responsive medical staff, knowledgeable dietitians and experienced therapists working with you, the recovery outlook is positive.

Whitehall of Deerfield is considered the area’s premier post-hospital rehabilitation center and has consistently received Medicare’s highest rating in Medicare’s five-star rating system of nursing and rehabilitation centers. The expert staff is dedicated to providing the highest standards of customer service and clinical care, including providing healthy and appealing meals throughout each day.

In addition to exceptional care, Whitehall of Deerfield will provide you with world-class accommodations and amenities to make your stay comfortable. Attentive concierge service, daily delivery of Starbucks coffee and newspaper to your room, valet parking for your visitors, Wi-Fi, an in-room dining and a Wellness Spa are just a few of the many services offered during a stay at Whitehall of Deerfield. Meals from a diverse menu can be taken in the privacy of your room or in the elegant dining room. Gourmet coffee, freshly-baked goods and ice cream refreshments are also available to all guests.

The staff at Whitehall at Deerfield strives to address every guest’s needs in luxurious surroundings giving your stay a world-class feel. To learn more about Whitehall of Deerfield, visit whitehallofdeerfield.com or call 847-945-4600.

300 Waukegan Road Deerfield, IL 60015 | 847.945.4600