An escape to the tropics may be just what the doctor ordered!
Vacations have long been shown to optimize mental and physical wellbeing as they improve sleep (provided you aren’t kept up all night by two snoring parents in the bed next to you), significantly reduce stress, increase job productivity and performance, boost creativity and can significantly reduce anxiety and depression!
Though peace of mind and optimal health may very well be a flight away, it may also be just a bite away, no plane ticket needed! Food both directly and indirectly affects our mental health in intricate ways. Some foods can cause chemical reactions to naturally elevate our overall mood, provide relaxation and mental clarity. Others affect our mood by providing energy and high nutrient density delivering the raw materials for our cells to thrive. While others reduce inflammation to ease the “attack” systems of our bodies. Mental health starts from the inside out. It’s a week in Cuba served up on your dinner plate!
Here are 5 tropical foods scientifically proven to powerfully boost your mood:
A banana a day keeps the psychiatrist at bay
- Bananas produce dopamine quinine, a naturally occurring form of dopamine which is a “feel good” neurotransmitter in our brains. Not only are bananas at their ripest and sweetest when they are brown, but the “sweet spots” also contain the highest levels of this dopamine!
- Bananas are also high in magnesium and B vitamins to calm our nervous system to reduce stress.
- Complex carbohydrates aid in the absorption of tryptophan along with vitamin B6 helping convert it into the mood-elevating hormone serotonin (one reason low carb diets may increase risk of mood disorders). This also aids in a good sleep with no worries of snoring roommates!
- among the most nutritious plant-based organisms, sea algae provides a rich source of nutrients and antioxidants which elevate energy levels to boost your mood. On top of its loaded nutrient density, this is another reason to add sea veggies to your daily green smoothies.
- Sources: Spirulina, chlorella
Coco for coconuts
- coconuts contain medium chain triglycerides which work fast in the body as brain food to rev our neurological centers and help us to feel more alert and invigorated. The scent of coconut alone has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and lower blood pressure just so long as it is not a synthetic fragrance.
Fishing for antidepressants
- The essential fatty acids EPA and DHA are crucial for brain health, the root of mental wellbeing on top of being highly anti-inflammatory. The omega 3’s will also assist in serotonin development in the brain to further elevate mood and have been shown to reduce depression as effectively as antidepressants, without the unwanted side effects!
- Prescription for wellness: I recommend eating well sourced fish 1-2X/week.
Dark chocolate for a sunny disposition
- Tropical? Heck yes! The cocoa belt (where the large majority is grown) is a narrow band up to 20 degrees of latitude north and south of the equator. Cacao (raw, unprocessed cocoa) is one of the richest sources of magnesium in food which relaxes the body and nervous system for powerful stress reduction.
- phenylethylamine (PEA) promotes happy, euphoric feelings, and alleviates depression
- Anandamide (the “bliss” chemical) in raw cacao is a neurotransmitter produced in the brain that can temporarily block feelings of pain and depression and may elevate dopamine levels. Chocolate also contains other chemicals that prolong these “feel-good” effects of anandamide.
- It also contains tryptophan and serotonin! Bonus, it also has the same effect that love has in our brain without coming home with your vacation boyfriend.
- Note: not all chocolate nor cacao is created equal. Look for quality sourced cacao and a minimum 70% dark chocolate. My favourite for both quality and taste being Giddy Yoyo 🙂
Your ultimate mood boosting prescription for wellness: add a little dose of the tropics to every meal this week!
In a tropical state of mind,