The Netflix series "Sugar Rush" is a reality show that brings teams together to create super-sweet treats. There are episodes like "Kids in a Candy Store," in which contestants make outlandish, extra-sweet treats, inspired by popular candies. Well, you'd think all that sugar might make audiences sit up and pay attention. But no. After eight episodes, the sugar-bomb seems to have, well, bombed. No season two has been announced.
That wouldn't surprise researchers who recently published a study in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. They found that sugar isn't a mood-boosting energizer that perks you up and makes you happy. Instead, after looking at 31 published studies that involved almost 1,300 adults, they concluded that consuming added sugars leaves you more tired and less alert than someone who didn't consume sugar and has absolutely no positive effect on mood, regardless of how much you consume.
Good Mood Foods
There are foods, however, that enhance your mood and help fight off depression.
Fatty fish: Studies show folks who don't eat fish very often are more likely to be depressed than fish lovers. We're especially in favor of salmon and ocean trout; they're loaded with brain-boosting, heart-loving omega-3 DHA. Aim for two to three servings a week.
Recipe: Crust salmon with crushed walnuts or hemp seeds (rich in healthy fats, vitamin E and phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc) before searing in a hot skillet and then putting in the oven until cooked as you like; serve topped with spicy radish sprouts. They're loaded with vitamin C, which has been found to help prevent and reduce anxiety (that's a mood booster for sure), as well as zinc (an antidepressant because it helps modulate your stress response) and magnesium (there's some evidence it, too, may help boost mood).
Amaranth: It's an ancient whole grain that's loaded with polyphenols, fiber, and iron and other minerals that help keep your blood sugar level stable while providing energy. In fact, all 100% whole grains contain phytonutrients and fiber that benefit your mood by boosting your gut biome and blood sugar control. Blood sugar fluctuations are linked to fatigue, grumpiness and a variety of serious health woes.
Recipe: Cinnamon Flavored Amaranth Mini Popcorn! Heat a medium-size skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add 2 tablespoons of amaranth seeds. COVER QUICKLY so it doesn't pop everywhere! Gently shake back and forth. You'll have "micro popcorn" in about 10 seconds. Pour into a dish and repeat with another 2 tablespoons. Dust with cinnamon for its flavor and anti-inflammatory effects!
Mushrooms Grown in UV Light: These fungi become supercharged with vitamin D. That makes them a good-mood food because vitamin D is essential for regulation of mood-determining neurotransmitters, like serotonin, dopamine and melatonin. In addition, research shows that folks with a vitamin D deficiency (almost half of all Americans!) are at an increased risk for depression.
Recipe: Saute mushrooms in olive oil (a heart-friendly, anti-inflammatory oil that's important for avoiding mental distress) or toss in olive oil and roast in the oven. Add to a steamed vegetable medley (a plant-focused Mediterranean-style diet is associated with a longer life and less disease, and that all adds up to more happiness) flavored with lemon, garlic and basil.
Fermented foods: These include sauerkraut, kimchi and miso, as well as pickles and yogurt. They're loaded with probiotics that nurture your gut biome and your mood, because what goes on in the gut influences how your mood-enhancing neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin function. Almost 95% of the serotonin in your body is produced in your gut!
Recipe: Kimchi Avocado Spread (really!). Mix 1/2 cup sauerkraut and 1/2 cup of guacamole together to add to fish tacos, roasted vegetables or use for snacking on 100% whole grain chips.
For more info on foods to eat to improve your mood and battle everything from inflammation to diabetes, check out Dr. Mike's recent book, "What to Eat When."
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.