Can the Mediterranean diet really affect your mood? Can it really make you feel good? How does it do that? Well, whether you believe it or not, the Mediterranean diet can have a positive effect on your emotions. It can actually bring you happiness!
Based on the findings of a recent research conducted at the University of Barcelona in Spain, adding a handful of nuts (particularly walnuts, almonds and hazel nuts) can actually increase a person’s serotonin levels. You can read about the full details of the study in the November 2011 issue of the ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research.
If in case you are not aware of what serotonin is and what it does for you, here are some facts that can help you understand its importance.
Serotonin: Some Basic Facts
- Serotonin is a neurotransmitter – a chemical that relays signals or messages from one part of the brain to another.
- Serotonin affects some of our body functions. This includes the functions of our muscles, cardiovascular system and endocrine system. It can also affect milk production in humans and mammals.
- Serotonin also affects our moods, memory and learning, appetite, sleep and sexual functions. It affects our temperature regulatory functions and social behavior as well.
- Low or imbalanced serotonin levels can lead to depression, anxiety, panic, and obsessive-compulsive behavior.
- Serotonin is synthesized from an essential amino acid known as tryptophan. You can get significant amounts of tryptophan by eating red meat and dairy products, tuna, shellfish, seeds, legumes, and you guessed it – nuts!
- Foods rich in complex carbohydrates (whole wheat and whole grain foods, brown rice, sweet potatoes, bulgur, couscous and quinoa), omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, halibut, shrimp, scallops, raw tofu, soybeans and walnuts) and vitamin B6 (cereals and oatmeal, banana, spinach, pepper and cabbage) also help maintain the level of serotonin in the body.
Are you now beginning to see the link between nuts and your emotions? I bet you are!
Studies Emphasizing the Possible Effects of Mediterranean Diet on a Person’s Mood
Can the Mediterranean diet really improve a person’s emotional disposition? Well, according to a research conducted by Dr. Almudena Sanchez-Villegas and her colleagues at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain, people who follow a more Mediterranean-like way of eating are 30% less likely to suffer from depression as compared to people who eat predominantly Western diets.
Although the research warrants further studies to determine the accuracy of their findings as well as the specific mechanism by which the Mediterranean diet accomplishes such effects, evidence regarding the positive effects of the Mediterranean diet on the prevention of depression now exists.
Additionally, based on a research conducted by Dr. Laura McMillan and her colleagues at the Brain Sciences Institute at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia, switching to a healthier Mediterranean diet can have a significant impact on a person’s mood and cognitive performance. And this can be achieved even after just ten days of making the switch. Amazing, isn’t it?
During the 10-day research period, the test group was required to follow a nutrient-dense Mediterranean diet. They were also required to eliminate red meat, pre-packaged and processed foods, foods containing refined sugars and refined flour, caffeinated products, soft drinks and condiments. Calorie intake, however, was not restricted in any way. The control group, on the other hand, made no significant changes in their normal diet.
At the end of the 10-day trial period, those in the test group scored significant improvement rates in vigor, alertness and general feeling of contentment. Results of this study were published in the February 2001 issue of Appetite Journal.
There’s no doubt about it now – the Mediterranean diet can have a positive effect on a person’s emotional disposition. So, make that healthy switch now and enjoy a happier life!
Hope you found this valuable,