Food and serotonin: eat well, to feel better
New consumer habits have led us to be more concerned about controlling what we eat than ever before, although it is true that a large proportion of the people who look after what they eat do so to `be in top form'. The good thing about these new trends is that they have also led us to discover the relationship between food and our moods, and how what we eat influences the functioning of our hormones.
TOPIC OF THE MONTH4 September 2018
Foods that help you sleep
Melatonin is the 'sleep hormone' that helps to maintain the body's 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. The levels of these hormones increase naturally during the night, which helps promote sleep and are suppressed during the day, allowing us to stay awake.
Therefore, to improve sleep, you should eat foods rich in tryptophan such as: white meats (turkey or chicken), nuts (nuts, almonds, pistachios...), fruits (banana, pineapple), whole grains, eggs, soybeans, milk and dark chocolate.
Although they contain small quantities, eating foods that contain melatonin also helps us prepare for sleep: tomatoes, cherries, ginger or nuts, rice or corn.
The specific colours of foods have a beneficial effect on our mind; thus, orange and red foods stimulate, blue ones calm, yellow ones encourage, and green ones help concentration.
Foods that help you be happy
It has been scientifically proven that serotonin and endorphins are the key substances that generate sensations of happiness, well-being and restful sleep; and, above all, that they act as natural analgesics.
The 5 most effective natural foods to help you feel good are chocolate, bananas, pineapple, and tuna and salmon.
•Chocolate: Perfect for providing a small stimulus between meals. Sugar and cocoa butter make the body receptive to absorbing tryptophan, thus increasing the level of serotonin in the brain.
•Bananas: Are full of nutrients and fibre and contain very little fat compared to chocolate; they are also rich in vitamins and minerals, and provide the body with a rapid supply of energy; and the tryptophan they contain helps to produce serotonin, the happiness hormone, which has a calming effect on the nervous system and encourages positive thinking and an optimistic mood.
•Pineapple: Another stimulant of physical well-being, it is also an ally against frustration, this energy-filled delight is rich in minerals and vitamins and contains active compounds that stimulate the production of serotonin, which generates a optimism and vitality.
•Tuna and Salmon: Rich in omega-3s, they lift the spirits.
Foods that help you fight stress
Stress in itself is not dangerous, as it is part of our lives and, in a way, normal. But being continuously exposed to high levels of stress has its consequences: insomnia, generalised pain, depression, ulcers, and even skin problems and hair loss... These are some of the foods that can help us fight stress:
•Yoghurt: Eating natural yoghurt every day regenerates the intestinal flora and promotes the production of serotonin, the hormone produced by the brain, which is closely related to the regulation of our state of mind, and is also a sleep regulator, thus promoting peaceful sleep while controlling our stress and body temperature.
•Oatmeal: Oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate that helps to increase serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and is responsible for boosting mood and also relaxation.
•Chocolate: Eating a small amount of dark chocolate each day (40-50 grams) reduces stress hormone levels.
Muscle relaxing foods
Magnesium and potassium are two natural elements that have natural muscle relaxant properties. If you suffer from muscular tension, the best thing to do is to look for allies in your diet by adding bananas, baked potatoes, almonds, pistachios, squid, brown rice and chocolate into your diet.
Foods that help us improve our defenses
Vegetables, particularly those with green leaves, are the ones that offer the most vitamin B, antioxidants and energy to the body.
This type of antioxidant food helps to reverse the cellular damage that free radicals may have caused in the body, allowing not only to fight ageing, but also helping the body to be stronger against any disease that may attack it, and also offers calcium, phosphorus, iron and fibre, which are synonymous with energy for the human body to function properly, preventing flu, infections, generating vitality, feeling healthier and having more energy. These are some of the benefits you will notice when you incorporate green leafy vegetables such as watercress, broccoli, spinach and / or chard to your food.