Everybody wants to be happy but not every body knows what happiness is. I ask so many people the question, “what do you love?” Only to get a handful of “I don’t knows”. It’s quite shocking to me that roughly 99% of people I talk to do not know what makes them happy.
While this post is particularly discussing nutrition and happiness, it just wouldn’t be like me to leave anything out. If you didn’t catch my latest email on happiness then here is a brief of what you missed.
What Is Happiness?
Happiness is not an emotion, it is a condition.
It is a word which states a condition, and the anatomy of that condition is interest. Happiness, you could say, is the overcoming of not unknowable obstacles toward a known goal.
To break this down, our happiness is in directly proportion to our level of interest. Additionally, we create the interest – at any moment we can decide to be interested.
Once we decide to become interested in something we can experience obstacles on our way to a goal. For example, nature makes me happy. I am very interested in Mother Earth. She’s beautiful to me and I feel there is much I can learn from being in the wild.
One obstacle though is finding nature. Today’s modern world has made a good deal of it scarce so in order for me to be happy on a regular basis, I need to seek out some good spots or at the very least, get outside of the house.
This points us to one fundamental truth, happiness is created. We put happiness into our lives, it does not happen to us. The truth of the matter is nothing makes us happy, we create the condition that makes happiness. Create and make are two different things. While a situation may make and produce happiness, it does not create it.
That being said, none of the foods here will actually create happiness in you. You actually are creating happiness by deciding to read this blog, get informed then take the necessary steps of action to help produce more happiness in your life by seeking out these foods and consuming them daily to find out!
Food For Thought
Now that I get some more helpful information out let’s start looking at some things we can do to make us feel a little more happy. There are certain foods rich in particular vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids are not only super healthy, but can also increase happiness, lessen symptoms of depression, and quell anxiety.
How can foods improve our moods? It all comes down to the brain. A healthy cognitive system is essential to regulating mood. There are several neurotransmitters present in the body when we are in a state of happiness and certain nutrients have a profound impact on promoting the secretion of these chemicals.
Researchers have studied the connection between foods and the brain and identified nine nutrients that can combat depression and boost our mood:
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- Vitamins B6, B12
- Vitamin D
Below I’ll list some of the best food sources of these nutrients and you can begin experimenting with one or more of them.
For each of the specific nutrients mentioned above, I’ll recommend at least 3 foods that are highest in that particular nutrient:
- Calcium: The most abundant mineral in the body, calcium plays an important role in maintaining strong bones and healthy blood vessels, and in reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Low levels of calcium may play a role in PMS-related depression in particular. Calcium deficiency affects more women than men, so women should take special care to meet the daily requirements .
How it helps: Found in a variety of sources (non-dairy included), calcium is often paired with vitamin D to help regulate mood fluctuations attributed to PMS . Since estrogen plays a large role in calcium production, calcium consumption may improve PMS-related depression
The best foods: Raw Milk Kefir, Kale, and Collards.
- Chromium: This trace mineral found is found in small quantities in the body and helps the body metabolize food. Good metabolism means good energy and good mood! A lack of chromium hurts the body’s ability to regulate insulin (the hormone that regulates blood sugar) and may lead to diabetes-related complications like vision loss and high blood pressure. According to TCM the kidney meridian is associated with the emotion fear, which means fear damages the kidneys but also people with weak kidneys are likely to be more fearful.
How it helps: Chromium plays an important role in increasing the brains’ level of serotonin, norepinephrine, and melatonin, which help the brain regulate emotion and mood. Because chromium works directly with the brain’s mood regulators, it’s been found to be an effective treatment of depression.
The best foods: Broccoli, Concord grapes (I suggest wild), and Turkey.
- Folate: Alternatively known as B9 or folic acid, folate helps the body create new cells and supports serotonin regulation. Serotonin delivers messages to nerve cells and helps the brain manage a variety of functions, from determining mood to regulating social behavior. Folate deficiency can cause fatigue in addition to lowering levels of serotonin.
How it helps: A combination of Folate, B6 and B12 are often paired together to treat depression. Be sure to get a methyl form though. Or just eat start incorporating all these foods mentioned into your diet, especially Coconut Kefir!
The best foods: Asparagus, Brussels Sprouts, and Avocado.
- Iron: Iron plays an important role in the body, from transporting oxygen to supporting energy levels and aiding muscle strength. Low levels of iron can lead to feelings of fatigue and depression. Iron deficiency appears more frequently in women than men, especially women of childbearing age.
How eating helps: Consuming enough iron will help prevent iron anemia (not enough iron), a condition that commonly affects women more than men. Keeping enough iron in the body is important, as the fatigue, apathy, and mood change associated with the iron deficiency can often lead to depression.
The best foods: Grassfed Beef (especially livers), Lentils (soak before eating), Oysters.
- Omega-3: This essential fatty acid plays an important role in brain health and contributes up to 18 percent of the brain’s weight.The body does not naturally produce Omega-3s, so the fatty acid needs to be consumed from outside sources, hence the name essential. Deficiency symptoms include fatigue, mood swings, memory decline, and depression.
How eating it helps: Studies show a correlation between consumption of fish with high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids and a decreased risk of depression and suicide. Whether eating fish or snacking on chia seeds, increasing your intake of omega 3 fatty acids may help combat depression.
The best foods: Wild Herring, Grassfed Butter (Ghee), Fermented Spirulina is the only vegan source of omega-3 that actually absorbs.
- Magnesium: This is a very special mineral that plays over 300 roles in maintaining and protecting the body’s health. Many people are deficient today due to poor soils. Deficiency can lead to irritability, fatigue, mental confusion, and predisposition to stress.
How eating it helps: Magnesium plays a large role in the development of serotonin, which is a major contributor to feelings of happiness . Due to its ability to help regulate emotions, it’s a common element in homeopathic remedies for balancing mood.
The best foods: Raw cacao, Pumpkin Seeds, and Almonds.
- Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 helps the production of neurotransmitters, which send messages from the brain to the rest of the body. Deficiency in B6 can cause short-term anemia; long-term effects include a weakened immune system, confusion, and depression.
How it helps: Consuming vitamin B6 is essential for regulating brain function, which influences our emotions . In addition to regulating healthy moods, Vitamin B6 is also an effective method for treating premenstrual depression.
The best foods: Wild Yellow Fin Tuna, Sunflower Seeds, and Pastured Chicken.
- Vitamin B12: B12 is an essential for the formation of red blood cells and nerves. Low levels of B12 can cause short-term fatigue, slowed reasoning, and paranoia, and are associated with depression. Vitamin B-12 is most abundantly found in meats, eggs, and animal byproducts, meaning vegetarians and vegans have an increased risk of developing a deficiency. There is one way around this and that is to take a fermented spirulina and to in general eat plenty of probiotic foods in the form of fermented vegetables and beverages. Probiotic bacteria are like nutritional alchemist and are actually responsible for manufacturing B vitamins like B12.
How eating it helps: Because moods depend largely on signals from the brain, B12 plays an important role in regulating depression — consuming enough vitamin B12 allows the body to synthesize a group of nutrients critical for normal neurological function.
The best foods: Grassfed Beef, Probiotic Foods, and Shellfish (oysters, clams, etc).
- Vitamin D: This is more of a hormone than it is a vitamin. It helps regulate cell growth, plays an important role in maintaining the immune system, and (when paired with calcium) protects bones. Studies show that low levels of vitamin D are associated with depressive symptoms in both men and women. Most often, lowered levels of Vitamin D are the result of indoor lifestyles, limited sun exposure, and inadequate intake of vitamin-D-rich foods. Learn more about the healing powers of Sunlight and some tips on getting optimal shine here.
How eating it helps: If you’re feeling blue, increasing vitamin D could help ward off depression. Consuming the mood-regulating vitamin is important, especially during the wintertime when light from the sun (a natural producer of vitamin D) is limited.
The best foods: Sunlight of course, Mushrooms (preferably wild), and pastured Egg Yolks.
- Zinc: This mineral is found in almost every cell and plays an important role in immune function by helping the body protect the gut from damage. Low levels of zinc in the diet can lead to a variety of issues, including a weakened immune system, loss of appetite, anemia, hair loss, and depression. Vegetarians need as much as 50 percent more zinc than non-vegetarians due to the body’s lower absorption rate of plant-based zinc.
How eating it helps: Studies have identified zinc as an important factor in decreasing depressive symptoms, as the vitamin can improve the response of antidepressants while reducing the side effects of anti-depression medication. A lack of zinc can trigger depressive behaviors, so load up on zinc-rich foods to balance your mood.
The best foods: Sprouted Pumpkin Seeds, Pastured Lamb and Oysters. **Quality Coffee is also rich in Zinc 😉