Remember that Harry Potter scene where Harry is given chocolate to recover from the effects of the Dementors? Even if you aren’t a fan of the series, we’ve all heard that certain foods make us happy. But is there truth to that claim?
My gut says yes!
The hormone behind our mood is serotonin (nicknamed the happy hormone). Nearly all of the serotonin in our body is produced in our gut. That’s why eating foods that promote the production of the happy hormone can improve our mood.
Good bacteria or probiotics help a lot with serotonin production. So, regularly take in probiotic-rich and fermented foods like yoghurt, soy milk, pickles, olives and even kimchi.
Resistance is not futile
Another way for the gut to help your mood is to take in resistant starches, which nourish good bacteria. Foods rich in resistant starches include peas, lentils, beans, green bananas and (wait for it) potatoes, pasta and rice! It turns out if you cook and cool rice, pasta, and spuds, they become resistant starches and are great for your gut. But go easy on the portions—as a guide, a large roast potato has about 30g, and the recommended intake is 20g.
Get some good fats
The king of good fats is Omega-3 which helps improve our mood. This effect is the reason why both the high-Omega-3 Japanese and Mediterranean diets lead to a reduced risk of depression. Why not try this mood-boosting, Omega-3-rich lunch idea for a workday pick-me-up?
Does chocolate equal happiness?
Does the science back the belief? According to research, the happy feeling we get from chocolate has much less to do with serotonin and more with the release of its pain-reducing cousin, endorphins. It also seems our joy primarily comes from the enjoyment of eating chocolate rather than in any chemical reactions. So, yes, chocolate makes us happy—but only because we love it!
When looking to feel happy, it pays to care for your tummy. For a good mood, put in foods that are probiotic-rich, have resistant starches, are high in Omega-3 and maybe throw in a piece or two of chocolate!