The Mediterranean Diet : Belly Blues To Good Mood Food
The Mediterranean diet is your key to experience life to the fullest. With a sun-kissed soul fueled by the nourishment of belly-loving bowls, the Mediterranean lifestyle will have you feeling good, looking better and thinking like the best.
As referenced in the journal Nature, studies prove that there is a strong connection between gut health and the development of neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, our gut’s microbes are in direct communication with our brain cells. Certainly, this affects how our bodies react to inflammation and aids in keeping us healthy. So why not adopt a lifestyle inspired by the blissful ways of Mediterranean culture.
Your Belly Is Your Brain’s Best Friend
About 95% of serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract. That tract is lined with a hundred million nerve cells called neurons, which don’t just help you digest your favorite slice of late-night pizza. They also powerfully guide your emotions. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate your mood mediation, sleep, appetite and your inhibition of pain. This connection between the gut and brain axis further emphasizes how much of an influence that pizza binge has on your mood.
Soul Food To Beat The Blues
So how can we fill our bowls to feed our souls? There are numerous, simple tricks you can do that will have you feeling as good as you’ll look. First, you can implement supplements like probiotics into your daily routine. These contain good bacteria to help heal your gut. Studies have shown that probiotics have the power to decrease your anxiety. Also, they have the power to relieve your stress and give you a brighter mental outlook.
What’s fueling your busy days? Let’s compare the traditional Mediterranean diet to a typical “Western” diet. Studies have shown that the risk of depression is 25% to 35% lower in those who eat a traditional diet. The key? The traditional diet is high in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains and seafood. Lean meats and dairy are consumed in modest amounts. Also, the mediterranean people eliminate processed and refined foods and sugars which are highly consumed in the typical “Western” diet.
Good Mood Food Of A Mediterranean Diet
Sun-kissed and flourishing with glowing smiles – Here are some good mood foods that are abundantly enjoyed in the beautiful diets of the Mediterranean culture.
- Beat The Blues: A burst of refreshing flavor all while busting your anxiety! Blueberries contain the antioxidants and vitamin C our bodies crave to repair and protect our cells. Hangrily reaching for a sugar-loaded quick fix can only cause our brains to work sub-optimally. Also, this puts us at greater risks for depressive symptoms associated with anxiety. Instead, naturally sweet blueberries energize us, boost our immune systems and fuel our brains.
- Happy Trip with Tryptophan: Boost your intake of foods with Tryptophan. Enjoy foods like Wild Alaskan Salmon, turkey, whole eggs, spinach and seeds. This is an essential amino acid that naturally increases our serotonin levels.
- Greek Goddess: Studies show how the consumption of fermented, probiotic foods can have a positive reduction in social anxiety. Throw the best party on Greek row with plain Greek versions in particular. These contain live and active cultures that are guaranteed to have about 25 billion probiotic cultures a cup. Yogurt not your thing? Try out some other probiotic-rich foods like pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha, and miso.
- Go Green: Warm your soul with 1-2 cups of green tea a day. Fueling your body with these antioxidants will help to reduce your risk of heart disease and insulin resistance. Also, Green tea has the smile-inducing amino acid L-theanine and dopamine-loaded messenger GABA.
Double Takes & Dinner Dates
- Stack It Up: A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps keep cortisol and adrenaline at bay during times of stress. Fuel up with satiating, feel good foods like Wild Alaskan Salmon, chia seeds, soybeans, walnuts and cold-pressed olive oil. Our favorite Sunday stack? Simply grilled salmon sprinkled with Himalayan pink sea salt, black pepper, garlic, mustard seed powder, a few sprigs of rosemary. Next, top this with thinly sliced lemon and a dash of extra virgin olive oil. Furthermore, we love pairing this with garlicky, sautéed dark leafy greens or some crunchy asparagus fries. Finally, snuggle up in bed with a cup of soul warming green tea and dark chocolate. Dip it in ceylon cinnamon raw almond butter and plain Greek Yogurt for the ultimate self-care.
- Smiles Worth The Smell: Make lemons out of your sour smelling lemonade. With a helping of asparagus, you’ll get a smile about your smelly pee with its mood-boosting nutrient, Folate. Serve up smiles with feeding your family friends and gut friends these mouthwatering asparagus fries.
- Magnesium Manpower: Snacking on nuts rather than cookies will fuel your body with satiating, healthy fats and fiber that promote gut health. A much better choice and just as tasty to that brain-deteriorating sugar. For an afternoon snack fix, reach for a handful of almonds mixed with a few dark chocolate chips. For something savory, munch on kale chips dipped in homemade guac and this mouthwatering bean dip.
- Kale Me, Babe: You’ll be getting double-takes and going on double the dates with the skin-glowing, smile-inducing benefits of dark, leafy greens like kale. Rich in beta-carotene and vitamin E, your antioxidant levels will be boosted and brain functioning optimally. Want to take it to the next level? Amp up your kale chips with a sprinkle of the anti-inflammatory superpowers of Tumeric, pink Himalayan Sea Salt and black pepper. Also, if you’re craving something cheesy, sprinkle on some b-vitamin blessed waist-slimming flakes of Nutritional Yeast.
Sweet Tooth Satisfiers
- But You’re The Good Kind of Fat! Don’t let the fat content scare you. Avocados are one of the most gut-loving, brain-nourishing, waist-slimming foods you can have. Avocados are rich in stress-relieving B vitamins and heart-healthy fats. Netflix and chill with this sweet tooth satisfying avocado ice cream!
- Your Sweet Tooth Fix: Treat yourself to dark chocolate with a 80% of cacao or higher. This gives our body heart healthy, serotonin boosting affects of the powerful antioxidant Theobromine. Above all, try to keep your treat sugar-free. Refined sugar is found to have adverse affects on multiple parts of your body.
Want to learn more about how you can become happier and healthier with good mood food? We recommend that you check out the research from companies such as Mood Food and leading influencers like Max Lugavere. Most noteworthy, scientists are diving deep into the relationship between our guts and brains. This is leading to exciting new discoveries that we will continue to update.
Fueling your body with good mood food found in a Mediterranean diet, getting in a daily sweat sesh and nature walks with your loved ones has power. Turn your Sunday scaries into sunny ones and feel better with the simplicity of going back to the basics. However, serious forms of depression and thoughts of suicide can be very dangerous and may need further help. If you are experiencing thoughts about harming yourself, it’s important to seek treatment in an emergency room or contact your doctor.
ContributorSarah Rose is a Los Angeles-based photographer, designer and journalist. She's also an integrative nutritionist and sports trainer with a love for holistic wellness. When she's not out on the field, you can find her exploring the coast in her ’97 blue Tacoma pickup, packed up with her surfboard and pup Honey.