Good Mood Food
Jun 12, 2018 12:00AM
By Kelsey Casselbury
Comfort food is called that for a reason—a plate of mac and cheese or spoonful of mashed potatoes has a way of making you a little bit happier when you’re feeling low. Research shows that what you eat can have a profound effect on your mood—but which foods affect you can change as you age.
Research published in Nutritional Neuroscience determined that from ages 18 to 29, a person’s mood is more affected by meat, as it appears to increase the intensity of neurotransmitter precursors in the brain. It builds up two brain chemicals, serotonin and dopamine, both of which boost a person’s mood. (Exercise does, too.) Research determined that those in this age bracket who ate meat less than three times a week and exercised fewer than three times a week had more mental distress than those who did both.
But people over 30 fare better when they consume more antioxidants, which are plentiful in a variety of plant foods. As you age, free radical formation increases, so the need for antioxidants also increase. It’s also better for a post-30-year-old’s mood to reduce coffee consumption and eat foods that are lower on the glycemic index (high-GI foods raise blood sugar). That means oatmeal, legumes, lentils, most fruits, sweet potatoes, whole-wheat bread, and other whole grains. Steer clear of high-GI foods, which activate your body’s stress response—not great for your mental health. This includes food such as white rice, potatoes, pineapple, pretzels, and white bread products.