“Mens sana in corpore sano” (healthy mind in an healthy body) is an old Latin proverb and of course, one by one, the latest studies intervene to confirm this: mind and body are an inseparable reality. So it is not surprising that food influences our moods.
However, few people are aware that certain foods contribute to depression while others may generate a positive mood. Maybe we worry too much about calories and very little about the content.
1. Refined sugar. Sugar-rich foods have a good taste, we love them for that. Do you know why? The answer is simple: they generate the same response than drugs in our brain. It means that just after they melted in your mouth, an enormous amount of glucose enters in our blood stream and this makes us feel good, we experience a deep rewarding feeling, similar to that which can be felt by every addicted to consume drugs. However, the problem is that this effect lasts only about 20 minutes, after that time, glucose levels plummet and our mood gets considerably worse tending to irritability and depression, then we end up losing energy and feeling exhausted.
2. Artificial sweeteners. There are various artificial sweeteners, their effect on our mood have not been studied accurately, but some substances like aspartame could be considered old acquaintances. In the case of people who are prone to depression, aspartame works by blocking the production of serotonin, which causes headaches, insomnia and deep sadness.
3. Simple carbohydrates. The consumption of refined simple carbohydrates, or processed (such as those usually contained in white bread, cereals, pasta and soda), acts the same way as refined sugar, because once in our bodies they decompose easily and are rapidly converted into glucose which is the equivalent of eating candies or a cake. The final result for your mood is the same: irritability, fatigue and depression.
4. Hydrogenated fats. Saturated or hydrogenated fats are used to give a soft consistency to many foods and to conserve them longer. They can be usually found in bakery products, processed foods for frying and dairy products. Various studies have shown that trans fats increase the risk of depression, make us irritable and increase the stress levels.
5. Alcohol. Alcohol is a powerful depressant acting on our central nervous system, so that people who already have a predisposition to mood disorders should consume it with extreme caution. In fact, several studies have linked alcohol consumption with an increased risk of suffering severe depression.