There are a variety of foods that can stabilize mood and reduce depression through their impact on neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) – Serotonin and GABA. Serotonin deficiency is known to be associated with depression. GABA is the calm and relaxation neurotransmitter. GABAnergic system also belong to the inhibitory neurotransmission system that regulate and balance excitatory neurotransmission and prevent neuroexcitotoxicity.
- In contrast to simple carbs, complex carbohydrate (carbs) foods are digested slowly and the sugar components of the complex carbs are gradually released to the blood, thus keeping glucose and insulin level steady and providing long-lasting energy. Simple carbohydrate foods are not healthy because they are immediately converted to sugars, then to fat if in excess. Blood sugar initially rise, leading to hyperglycemia and insulin resistance. Blood glucose levels drops after a few hours and the stomach become hungry shortly. Complex carbohydrate foods supply the body and brain with glutamine, the amino acid that is the precursor to GABA. GABA is the brain chemical that affects stability and calmness. Mood stabilizing foods that are complex carbs include fruits, vegetable, whole grains. Whole grains are mood stabilizing foods such as millet, brown rice, barley, corn, oats, quinoa and buckwheat. Complex carbs has the unique ability to prevent the steep declines in blood sugar levels that result in fatigue, mood swings, and food cravings.
- Foods contain inositol – a vitamin B also helps prevent GABA deficiency. People with mild cognitive impairment often do not have enough vitamin B in the diet. Foods that are abundant in both glutamate and inositol such as whole grain, nuts, beef liver and other organ meats are the most healthy mood stabilizing foods.
- Foods contain omega-3 essential fatty acids are anti-depressant as well as essential for cognitive development and enhancing brain function. Food sources for omega-3 fatty acids are fish, walnut and others.
- Foods packed with nutrient biotin (also known as vitamin H) are also good source of mood stabilizing foods including egg yolk, soybeans, whole grain
- Foods high in purine such as calf’s liver and mushrooms
- Foods containing selenium – the essential trace mineral – (e.g. brazil nuts) also helps prevent depression (for health effects of selenium – see post “Selenium, Selenoproteins And Health”.
- Foods contain Tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that stimulate the production of serotonin (the brain chemical that is anti-depressant). Tryptophan is so effective in creating more serotonin that instant result may be visible after eating foods contain a lot of it. The suggested amount of tryptophan supplementation is 2 grams every day in order for the results to be visible. Mood stabilizing foods sources of Tryptophan are wheat germ, turkey, pork, egg, duck, cottage cheese, chocolate, chicken, avocado.