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Mood Foods

Posted by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 4:45 AM
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Both research and experience are proving without a doubt that there is a connection between how we eat and how we think and act. The biochemical basis of this food-mood relationship lies in the neurotransmitters, those chemical messengers which relay thoughts and actions along the trillions of neural pathways in the brain. It seems logical that since food affects neurotransmitter action and changes in neurotransmitters are responsible for changes in moods, that food does affect mood. It also seems that food affects some people's moods more than others. Some children - we call them "vulnerable kids" -- are exquisitely sensitive to junk foods in their diets, while others seem to breeze through fast-food joints without any mood change. While it's easy to spot these vulnerable kids, I wonder how much "normal" behavior we attribute to "just being a kid" is really the result of poor nutrition. While the nature of the food-mood connection varies from person to person, here are the usual effects of various foods.

Carbs that calm. Complex carbohydrates and foods that have a low glycemic index (legumes, unrefined grains, and fruits) are likely to have a relaxing effect because they cause fewer blood sugar disturbances, with less release of stress hormones.

Carbs that rev. Sugars, such as those found in frostings and soft drinks, tend to cause more fluctuations in moods that run parallel with fluctuations in blood sugar. First, there's a high, then a low, and eventually the person becomes irritable as the mood fluctuations parallel the ups and downs of blood sugar. Junk sugars cause fewer mood fluctuations when eaten along with a fat or fiber that slows down their absorption into the bloodstream.

by on Feb. 9, 2011 at 4:45 AM
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