Feeling Sad? Eat.


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            It isn't until after you go away to college that you really can appreciate a home-cooked meal. This past weekend, I couldn't wait to head back to my hometown to can for THON, and I certainly couldn't have been more excited for my mom's cooking. Despite the lack of sleep over the past two days, I found myself in an overall excellent mood. Interestingly enough, science claims that my consistent happiness could have been due to the delicious food I was eating non-stop all weekend.

Thanks to the work of neurobiologist Norman Salem, Jr., Ph.D., we know today that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a particular type of omega-3 fat, is prevalent in the brain. Miraculously, our brains do not produce DHA - we get it entirely from the foods we eat. Joe Hibbeln was shocked by this discovery and suggested that too much or too little intake of these fats can affect the way our brain operates - and he was right.

Low omega-3 levels can lead to a reduced amount of dopamine, therefore making it impossible for dopamine to fulfill the ""reward" chemical that the brain releases in response to pleasurable experiences." Basically, straying away from foods that make us happy can lead to negative emotions, such as depression. Scientifically speaking, "serotonin is the neurotransmitter most linked to happiness, since you need it to regulate sleep and pain. It's also a powerhouse at counteracting excitatory neurotransmitters." These excitatory neurotransmitters stimulate our body and mind; the more neurotransmitters a food's compounds can produce, the "happier" it makes us.

It seems too good to be true that a gourmet meal or dessert can turn a bad day around, and to be honest, it is. Food does make us happy, and a lot of the reasoning is behind comfort eating, which "work[s] at a molecular level to lift our mood" when we are feeling down. Comfort eating can also lead to serious problems like obesity; people become addicted the "high" feeling food gives them the same way that drug addicts are addicted to the "high" due to drug abuse.

I don't think I'm addicted to food, but I do love to eat. I'll admit it; being at home this past weekend may have lead to me comfort eat a little bit too much... However, I've never felt like I was eating in a way that was out of my control. To avoid the dangers of excessive comfort eating, everyone must understand the basic fact that food can be addictive. All in all, a good meal never fails to put me in a good mood, and I'm just glad to know that I'm not the only one - it's scientifically proven! 

          rsz_food-is-happinessamerican-apparel-unisex-fitted-teewhitew760h760.jpg

5 Comments

There is no doubt in my mind that eating induces the release of feel-good hormones in the body. However, it is important not to become overly reliant on food to boost your mood. Eating reduces stress and relieves boredom, but when people become overly reliant on food and consume unhealthy amounts at one time, it can lead to detrimental outcomes to both mental and physical health.

http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/binge-eating-disorder/binge-eating-disorder-causes
That being said, I think we're all guilty of a late night ice cream break without it resulting in dire consequences.

I can definetely relate to food boosting my mood. If I am tired and don't want to go to the gym, I can eat and then realize I suddenly have more energy. I also notice I am really grumpy when I am hungry. This must be because of the lack of dopamine that my body has at the time. My family always jokes around that I am in the best mood after I eat. Although, this does not work for all cases because when I eat turkey, it makes me really tired. Turkey almost makes a reverse effect. I would like to do more research on this.

I think the important thing to get from this article is that it's not food in general that makes us happy when we eat, but rather foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids.

Foods that include these types of fatty acids include: pasture raised meats, walnuts, wild rice, edamame, canola, flax, beans, and fish.
http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/food-nutrition/healthy-eating/5-foods-high-in-omega-3.htm

Eating, in general, may help to boost one's mood just because of a love for food, but food's that chemically boost the mood are one's that contain this type of fatty acid such as those listed above.

There's almost no problem that a huge bowl of ice cream can't fix!!!

This is a perfect college article! I think we all know that eating solves most problems for us. It's really interesting to learn about what foods really make us happy versus what foods just taste really good to us. I know I really like to eat high protein foods to keep me full throughout the day. I eat a lot of omega-3 foods as well which I do actually believe make me happy! It's so interesting to me that they have chemical boosters in them that can actually change your mood! After researching, I found some more foods that make you happy! You can check them out here!
http://healthyliving.msn.com/health-wellness/9-foods-that-make-you-happy#8

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