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Could you use a little pick-me-up? If you’re a little down in the dumps or battling those winter blues, I have some good news for you. You can increase your happiness with the power of food. That’s it. No prescription. No pills. No side effects. Just healthy, feel-good foods that are proven to combat depression and boost your mood!
What I love about using food as medicine is that you’re committing to a lifestyle change. This isn’t a temporary “quick fix.” When enjoyed regularly, the foods on this list can help promote a long-term increase in happiness. So get ready to nourish your body and soul with delicious foods that can increase your happiness, boost your energy and satisfy your cravings. And they do satisfy – chocolate AND carbs are included. You’re welcome.
Just having a good reason to eat chocolate is enough to bring on the happiness. It not only tastes good, but it instantly boosts your mood and makes you feel more vibrant and energized! Eating small amounts of dark chocolate – about 1.4 ounces – a few times a week reduces cortisol and other stress hormones. Skip the sugary milk chocolate and go for the darkest organic chocolate you can find.
If you’re an athlete, grab an occasional glass of chocolate milk. It provides a great protein-carbohydrate combination that helps you recover after intense workouts and improves your mental and physical performance. There can be too much of a good thing, so remember that your nutrition is all about balance and moderation. Making smart choices and maintaining that balance will keep you healthy and happy!
This is a big one! Many people assume that if they’re feeling down, they need to significantly increase their protein intake to feel better. This is not recommended. Too much protein is actually detrimental to your mood and can cause serious health concerns. To safely boost your mood, aim for a balance of some protein mixed with complex carbs like oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, etc. This combination is what your brain needs to stimulate the production of serotonin – that all-important, mood-regulating hormone. This is the perfect combo for those cold, dark winter months when we tend to feel a little blue and crave carbs.
These foods do wonders for your mood! They give it a real boost and may help keep depression away. They can also help lower your risk for heart disease, reduce inflammation, and regulate neurological function. Omega-3s increase dopamine – the neurotransmitter that helps regulate your brain’s pleasure and reward centers. Some excellent food choices include salmon, flaxseeds, sardines, anchovies, egg yolks, herring, mackerel, and tuna.
I love how easily we can add these healthy whole foods to our lives! How simple is it to grab a banana or a handful of berries on your way out the door? Broccoli, spinach, and sweet potatoes are also quick and easy to prepare. It’s such a win-win! You get hydrated, energized and a big mood boost with such little effort. Add fruits and veggies to your meal plan for a big psychological payoff.
Remember that food is more than just nourishment – it’s medicine. We’re in this together, so let’s encourage each other to enjoy these foods that will bring on the happy and fight the blues. No pharmacy required. Make healthy living a part of every day.
The light in me honors the light in you. Namaste.
Find this and other health-promoting articles by Dr. Partha Nandi on his website, Ask Dr. Nandi.
A survivor of rheumatic heart disease, Dr. Partha Nandi M.D., F.A.C.P. grew up to become one of America’s leading patient advocates. His devotion towards educating and empowering others to “Be Your Own Health Hero” stemmed from the empathy and care he received from his father and his first Health Hero, Dr. Chandrasekhar, during his 10 day stay in the hospital and yearlong recovery.
After graduating at the top of his class and obtaining a medical degree at Wayne State University, Dr. Partha Nandi completed his gastroenterology fellowship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and has been a practicing physician for over 20 years. Throughout his career, Dr. Nandi authored several publications and spoke at TedX, college commencements, charity events, and international conferences, advocating ways to improve the quality and access to health care. He has also collaborated with The World Health Organization and partnered with the Ministries of Health in Jamaica and India.
Dr. Partha Nandi currently practices gastroenterology full-time in Detroit, Michigan, where he holds the title of Chief Health Editor for WXYZ ABC Detroit. He is also the creator and host of a medical lifestyle television show, Ask Dr. Nandi, and a speaker at conferences and premier medical meetings to share his mission and empower everyone “To Be Your Own Health Hero.”