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The Happy Foods

We used to hear from our grandmothers that we should eat well, more fruit and vegetables, more soup and all that staff - I am sure this sounds familiar to each one of us.

Needless to say that our eating routine has changed dramatically in the last 30 years due to the new lifestyle that imposes us to eat quickly in our jobs. Nowadays is easier to eat junk food, they are everywhere, same with the frozen or the ready made meals, not to mention the food warmed up in the microwaves.

Many people also hold the idea that eating well nowadays is more expensive, and as such a luxury.

Nevertheless, there are many reasons why eating well can improve dramatically our mental health... yes, our mental health, because some meals contain tryptophan, a very important amino acid converted by our system into 5HT, a precursor of a vital neurotransmitter called Serotonin, the same neurotransmitter found in antidepressants.

This is why eating dark chocolate is recommended because of the high content of this protein. Other foods in which we can find tryptophan include turkey, chicken, oily fish, milk, Brazil nuts, peanut butter, porridge oats, mango (the happy fruit), sesame seeds, chickpeas, soy milk and tofu.

Serotonin is manufactured in the brain and the intestines. Between 80 to 90% of this hormone and neurotransmitter can be found in the gastrointestinal tract…Serotonin cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, therefore serotonin that is used inside the brain must be produced within it but it helps when it is absorbed by our gastrointestinal tract, a part of the body that is called “the second brain” because the enteric nervous system is embedded in our guts and this is how the antidepressants gets also into our brain.

The same gut flora (the good microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts that stimulate the digestive process and aid the absorption of nutrients) are the ones involved when we are absorbing the components of medications and they are the ones that define whether these components are accepted or rejected by our body, but this also depends of our unique design, our DNA. This is why some medications work better for some people and not for others.

On the other hand anxiety make us produce more Cortisol, a stress hormone that stays longer in our body and is very destructive because affects our immune system, creating inflammation and is the birthplace for the free radicals linked to the oxidation of the body.

If you suffer from anxiety avoid foods that can produce more inflammation. Avoid processed food, sugar, alcohol, preservatives which are also the big no-no’s when we are talking about keeping a healthier gut flora.

For all these reasons keeping a healthy gut flora is essential for our physical and mental health in general and we can maintain that by eating healthy the 7 days of the week.

I dedicated a complete chapter about the good food to reduce anxiety and depression in my book "The Key", also available as audiobook, but if you want to explore deeper about the happy foods I recommend you also to read the beautiful book written by Rachel Kelly and Alice Mackintosh called “Good Mood Food” and you will see how the right food can help you to feel well.

If you want more Serotonin in your life expose yourself to sunlight, dance, get in love and laugh, laugh, laugh.

About the Author: Doraliz writes from Derby - England. She writes about mental and emotional health in life and at work. Visit

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