Eat Your Way to Happy
Have you ever had those days where you feel sad, upset, agitated or simply just “blah”? You don’t want to go to school or work, you don’t have the energy to socialize and the last thing you want to do is get out of bed. Did you know that the reason you’re feeling that way could be because your serotonin levels are low? Serotonin, also known as “the happy chemical” is a neurotransmitter that is found to be a contributor to feelings of well-being and happiness in your body. When your serotonin levels decrease, you’re more likely to experience depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), migraines and sleeping troubles. It’s totally normal to experience these moods because our bodies are constantly changing and reacting to the world around us. There are so many factors in our everyday lives that have an impact on our mood. Picture this: it’s Monday morning, you wake up to a grey sky and a thunderstorm, you slept through your alarm so you don’t have time for breakfast, you miss your bus and are late to work. Odds are, you’re not going to be in the best mood. All of these events have a role in contributing to your overall attitude. But no need to worry; there are multiple ways to alter your mood, including the kinds of food you eat. Remember that happy chemical I was talking about before? Well, it’s said that there are certain foods that contain the amino acid, tryptophan, which converts into serotonin when combined with other nutrients, which in turn, improves our mood. If you’re wondering which foods you can find these chemicals in, look no further. Below I’m going to list 7 foods that are rich in tryptophan so you can start eating happier!!
According to recent research, the protein in eggs can significantly boost your blood plasma levels of tryptophan. A few pro cooking tips: don’t leave out the yolks when you’re cooking eggs! Yolks are extremely rich in tryptophan, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients that are major contributors to the health benefits of eggs. Second tip: when it comes to preparing eggs, some options are healthier than others. Frying an egg adds a lot of fat, while boiling or poaching an egg doesn’t add any additional fat, making it the healthier option.
Cheese is another great source of tryptophan, as are many other dairy products. Try incorporating milk, cheese and yogurt into your daily food regimen to receive more of this wonderful nutrient. A delicious favourite you could make that combines cheddar cheese, eggs and milk is mac and cheese! What better way to get the nutrients you need than by stirring up a nice warm bowl of mac.
While this type of fish is a great source of tryptophan, it also provides omega-3 fatty acids, which can help support strong bones, healthy skin and eye function. In addition, this orange fish is also a great source of Vitamin D, which is essential for strong teeth and healthy muscles. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you can also get omega-3 from pumpkin seeds, walnuts and soya.
4. Nuts and Seeds
If you’re picky about which nuts and seeds to nibble on, there’s no need to worry because ALL nuts and seeds contain tryptophan. While these small-shelled snacks can boost your mood, they can also lower your risk for cancer, heart disease and respiratory problems. If you’re not convinced yet, nuts and seeds make great sources of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. So grab a handful of your favourite nuts, and snack on them between meals to help feel fuller for longer!
Remember that green, leafy vegetable that we all used to hate as children? Well, it turns out that it is a great source of tryptophan. Spinach is also a good source of iron, which helps the body make healthy red blood cells. Did you know that a lack of iron in the diet could lead to anemia, low energy or difficulty breathing? So get to boiling that abundance of green vegetable and you’ll be sure to see a difference.
If you love to eat meat, especially chicken, turkey, and goose, you’ll be happy to know that you’re receiving an excellent amount of tryptophan. Our favourite amino acid can be found in many protein-containing foods, but poultry is one of the best. While you’re receiving tryptophan, eating one serving of poultry also supplies about half of your recommended daily intake of protein. The great thing about meat is that you’ll always get a supply of tryptophan; the quantities just might vary depending on which type of meat you go for. If you’re wondering, turkey has a little less than chicken, and dark meat contains less than light meat. If you’re looking for the best, chicken breast is usually high in protein and low in fat.
7. Soy products
For all my vegan and vegetarian friends, having products that contain soy, such as tofu, soya milk, or soy sauce are great sources of tryptophan. It can be difficult to get all of your essential nutrients, including tryptophan when you have a limited amount of food choices, however, there are countless delicious recipes all over the internet that are rich in soy so that you don’t have to miss out!
Well that’s about it for the best sources of tryptophan. I hope you can take this list and integrate it into your daily lives (and kitchens). There are countless foods that can do amazing things for our bodies, we just need to take the time to do our research and be more attentive to what we’re putting into our systems. If there’s one thing you should take from this article, it’s to remember that it is okay to not feel okay. It’s normal to have those “blah” days where you don’t want to do anything, as long as it doesn’t last forever. You’re human and you’re going to experience lots of negative feelings, but knowing that we have control over our lives, makes all the difference. Remember, physical and mental health is so closely related. You need to be kind to your body so that you can be kind to your mind.
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BUONO is a Toronto-based lifestyle publication that focuses on the impact of food on people, culture, and life. Their blog delves deep into the exciting world of recipes, restaurant openings, and upcoming events. They are definitely a go-to when food is on your mind! Check them out at https://www.buonomagazine.com/