Happiness and Joy.

When you read those words, do you think of food?

Sure, we can eat a donut or a cookie for a little happiness.  Serving a cake to our friends for their birthdays does bring us that moment of joy.  BUT I am talking about the type of long-term happiness you and your body can experience from eating the right kind of foods so you stay healthy and get the absolute most out of your life.    

Food is a powerful tool that affects our body, mind, emotions, and entire life. What we eat impacts our happiness and joy and, because of this fact, the healthier we are, the happier we are.  Foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids are not only super-healthy; they give our body the chemistry it craves so it can be happy.  

Ok, before I get too preachy let’s build this plant-based toolbox of food that can help keep us happy.

Calcium

The most used mineral in the body.  Low levels of calcium potentially play a role in PMS-related depression, so it is always good to consume this daily.

Collard greens, yogurt, nut milks, and kale are great sources.

Chromium

Chromium plays a huge role in increasing levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and melatonin, which all help the brain deal with emotion and mood.

Go to broccoli, grape juice, potatoes, and whole-wheat English muffins (I know that one was really specific).

Folate

Folate, or folic acid, supports serotonin regulation and helps determine one’s mood and social behavior.  

Found in spinach, asparagus, brussels sprouts, and avocado.

Iron

Low levels of iron can lead to fatigue and depression- just ask someone with anemia.  Eating enough iron helps combat low iron and will also help with mood changes, too.

Lentils, spinach, sesame seeds, black beans, and dark chocolate (yay, chocolate!) are fantastic sources.

Magnesium

An important mineral with over 300 roles for our body including regulating emotions and balancing mood.

We will find magnesium in almonds, spinach, cashews, pumpkin seeds, and edamame.

Vitamin D

When we are stuck inside, our Vitamin D levels go down.  Studies show that low levels are common in depression of both men and women.  Increasing Vitamin D, especially during the wintertime, can help ward off depression.

There is Vitamin D in eggs, salmon, mushrooms, fortified orange juice, and of course doses of sunlight.

Vitamin B6

B6 deficiency can lead to a weakened immune system, confusion, and depression.  B6 is also useful in treating premenstrual depression.

Vitamin B6 sources are canned chickpeas, sweet potatoes, bananas, avocados, and pistachios.

Let’s start choosing to pick what we put in our bodies based on how it’s going to make us feel.

Sure, the occasional indulgent treat has its place, so let’s not write that off completely. But, life is too short not to be happy, so make sure your happy place starts with a happy plate!

To read more from Leah, make sure to visit her blog here.

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