top of page

Foods that make you happier

One of my long time friends (who shall remain nameless and I'll refer to her as "J") "hates" me because I weigh about the same I did when we went to high school . . . . . . and she doesn't. ("Hate" is a bit too strong but she's been known to say that to my face.)

I can't help it that I'm just not a glutton like one of my long time friends (who shall remain nameless).

I can't help it that I eat healthy and in moderation unlike "J".

i can't help that I eat to live, not live to eat like "J".

When I found this research I thought I might share it with you and "J".

The Chemistry of Joy

Our mood, our outlook and our energy levels are determined to a huge extent by the chemicals serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine and their relationship to one another.

We feel good when they are in balance. Beta endorphins also create a feeling of well-being, connectedness to others, and emotional stability. They even help us tolerate pain.

  • If levels of norepinephrine and dopamine are low, people will slow down, sleep a lot, have trouble concentrating and find it hard to motivate themselves. They can have a "sluggish" depression.

  • On the other hand, people with high levels of norepinephrine and dopamine, and possibly low levels of serotonin often feel angry, resentful and despairing. They can be critical and demanding. This would be an "agitated " depression.

  • A third kind of depression can occur with low levels of serotonin, which results in people feeling fearful , worried and inadequate. This is an "anxious" depression.

Here is where the kitchen comes in:

  • Sluggish Depression - Eating to INCREASE norepinephrine and dopamine: Eat high quality proteins throughout the day, lean beef, low-fat meats and fish.

  • Agitated Depression - Eating to DECREASE norepinephrine and dopamine: eat the same as to increase serotonin but eat very small amounts of protein. A vegetarian diet would be good.

  • Anxious Depression - Eating to INCREASE serotonin: Increase carbs, eat tryptophan, which is in nuts, dairy, and meats. Eat regularly throughout the day. Get some protein, but not a large amount.

SUGAR (also alcohol) elevates beta endorphins, which may be why people have sugar cravings. This elevation only lasts a short time, because the body metabolizes it quickly. This results in a "low" that follows the sugar "high", and you want more sugar! "J" you can avoid this by eating complex carbs and protein.)

Cholesterol helps the brain make the chemicals we need. So if you are depressed, eat some fat: Halibut, salmon, grains and nuts that have omega 3 and animal fat with omega 6 are both needed in balance.

* * * * *

And so my long time friend "J"

THIS is a brain healthy diet: Fats 30% Sugar 10% or less Caffeine drinks a day, 2 or fewer ( a cup of coffee is 6 oz) Complex carbs, whole grains, lean protein, fresh fruit and dark green, leafy vegetables - A lot!


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page