All of us have had those moments when it seems like we can’t shake that feeling of being sad. That’s when you reach for your favorite “comfort” food.
Comfort foods give you a feeling of bliss and happiness when you’re eating them. But when you’ve finished your last spoonful of ice cream or macaroni and cheese – the happy feeling disappears until the next time you eat your forbidden treat.
Well there’s a good reason for that, the so-called comfort foods you eat have one thing in common that your body needs…something your brain craves to feel good. What is it? FAT.
Your brain needs fat to feel good. Researchers have found that the fats you eat in your favorite comfort foods create the lift in your mood. It’s why we get happy when eating ice cream, cheese, or even a steak – the pleasure centers of your brain are triggered and respond the same way as if you took heroin.
Your feelings, like all mental processes, involve a frenzied exchange of electric activity and messages between your brain cells.
One of the main messengers is ‘dopamine’ it makes you ‘feel good’; low levels of dopamine are linked to sadness, depression, irritation, and emptiness.
Foods high in fat and sugar provide you with a surge of dopamine.
Your brain is your body’s most powerful organ and choosing the right food to keep your brain working at peak is crucial to your happiness and total-body health.
How One Nutrient Is the Key to Boosting Your Happiness and Mood
British scientists recently found that the essential nutrients required for total brain health are Omega-3 Fatty Acids, specifically EPA and DHA.
To keep your brain and nerves healthy you need Omega-3’s because your thoughts and feelings are passed through cells and fibers in your nervous system sheathed in fat, called myelin.
60% of your brain cells and nervous system are comprised of fatty acids so you need to provide your body with enough healthy fats to be able to function properly.
And not just any healthy fats will do – your body needs Omega-3 Fatty Acids since they are a key building block of your brain.
In the research study, scientists gave a group of patients with stubborn depression a daily dose of Omega-3 EPA. After three months more than two-thirds reported a 50% reduction in their depression symptoms (more effective than Prozac); particularly sadness, pessimism, inability to work, sleeplessness, and low libido.
All of the participants in the study had previously tried prescription anti-depressants. Joseph Hibbein, M.D. said “The important issue in this study is that the Omega-3 worked above and beyond the antidepressants.”
Omega-3 Fatty Acids have been linked to brain function for years – fish has been considered “brain food” for decades. But recent studies have found them to be even more beneficial to your overall health and happiness.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids keep brain signals moving smoothly. They attach to protein cells and cause a domino effect that blocks inflammation and insulin resistance – very good things.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids have already been proven effective in the treatment of inflammation, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, depression, Parkinson’s, arthritis, and cancer. The research on the benefits of Omega-3’s will likely continue for a long time since scientists believe they’ve only scratched the surface of this essential nutrient.
There is one major problem. Your body is unable to produce Omega-3’s in any form. You can ONLY get them through your diet or by taking a supplement.
Omega-3’s are found in salmon, tuna, shellfish, herring, mackerel, fish oils, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, dark green leafy vegetables, walnuts, and micro-algae (seaweed). Infants can only consume it through their mother’s breast milk or a DHA-fortified formula.
The Big Picture: There’s Nothing Fishy About This
Most people in the western world do not get enough Omega-3 foods in their daily diet. This lack of brain food is made worse by our over-consumption of Omega-6 foods (found primarily in vegetable oils like palm, soybean, and sunflower oils) which are pro-inflammatory and used in most frozen meals and fast food.
The average American gets 20 times their necessary amount of Omega-6 but doesn’t get enough Omega-3’s in their daily diet.
You have to have a healthy balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids to prevent mood disorders, heart disease, arthritis, obesity, inflammation, and cancer.
Our 5 favorite superfoods for those Omega-3 nutrients are:
Every day you’re bombarded with emotional and physical stress. By adding Omega-3’s to your diet today, your body will start to build up the levels you need to feel better and you may start to feel positive shifts in your moods. Most people begin to notice the effects within 8 weeks. The point is: it works.
Alexander B. Niculescu, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry at Indiana University School of Medicine conducted a study that lasted several years and determined:
“A diet rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids may help the treatment and prevention of bipolar disorder, and may help with alcoholism as well. Omega-3 Fatty Acids work on the brain in ways similar to psychiatric drugs.”
Omega-3’s – added to a healthy lifestyle and nutritionally-rounded antioxidant rich diet – will keep you thinking clearly and smiling inside and out.
These days if I start feeling anxious or a little depressed, I make a big salad of leafy greens and top it with broiled salmon steak and for a snack I grab a handful of pumpkin seeds. Delicious, nutritious healthy fats that give me the happiness and brain boost to think my way clear of any situation.