Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida


You feel what you eat



In Eastern culture, there’s an old adage you are what you eat. Now, scientists and researchers are linking the behavior and moods with the food with eat. Food plays a vital role in our mood, energy and emotion.

The brain's neurotransmitters regulate our mood and behavior and may be controlled by our food intake. The neurotransmitters most closely related to mood are brain serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. When the brain makes serotonin, we typically feel happier and more relaxed. Norepinephrine and epiphrenine are neurotransmitters known for their ability to increase levels of alertness and energy.

Few tips on improving mood and alertness:

  1. Nourish your body, nourish your soul: Eat breakfast and avoid going hungry. One of the biggest contributors to either a sudden or a chronic low mood is a drop in blood sugar or glucose. Eat every four to five hours.

  2. Eat complex carbohydrates: a study on effect of two breakfasts, different in carbohydrate composition, on hunger and satiety and mood in healthy men was published in International Journal for metabolic disorders. The study concluded that consumption of a complex carbs breakfast is favorable in comparison to a simple carb breakfast because of the lower perception of 'fatigue' and the higher degree of satiety after consumption. Complex carbs break down slowly in the body and release energy-creating glucose gradually for an even mood. Processed carbs such as cake, cookies and sugary processed foods instantly raise your blood sugar, leading to spike in sugar level.

  3. Eat a healthy, low-glycemic carbohydrate source with the protein. Protein foods are broken down into their amino acid building blocks during digestion. Amino acid tyrosine will increase the production of dopamine, nor epinephrine and epinephrine. Examples of high-protein foods that also contain significant amount of complex carbohydrates are legumes, cheese, milk and tofu.

  4. Folic acid: Go green, feed your body greens. Folic acid deficiencies have been linked to depression in clinical studies. Folic acid deficiency causes serotonin levels in the brain to decrease. Consider taking a supplement, and make sure you eat lots of leafy greens such as spinach and kale. Other folic acid sources include lentils, soybeans, beets, oranges, asparagus and peas.

  5. Selenium: Lack of selenium can cause bad moods. Individuals suffering from a lack of selenium have been shown to be more anxious, irritable, hostile and depressed than their non-lacking counterparts. Correcting deficiencies normalizes mood, but getting more does not elevate mood further. Results of the sample study in British population concluded that five weeks of selenium therapy decreased anxiety, depression and tiredness. Sources of selenium include brazil nut, sunflower seeds and whole grain cereals.

  6. Omega 3 fatty acids: They are natural source for the production of serotonin. Omega-3 fatty acids are highly concentrated in the brain and appear to be important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function. Population studies clearly show that people with a high intake of omega-3 fatty acids have a lower incidence of depression. Symptoms of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency include fatigue, poor memory, dry skin, heart problems, mood swings or depression, and poor circulation. Salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardine are the best sources of omega-3 fatty acid and essential fish oil.

Mood-boosting recipe:

Bhavi Nirav is a Registered Dietitian/M.S., R.D., L.D., certified yoga practitioner, and can be reached at

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