Previously I’ve delved into the philosophical reasons why I’m happy most of the time. Out of curiousity, I decided to check into the biochemistry of it. Besides the obvious artificial sources in the forms of drugs, other sources lie in the food which we eat.
My breakfast for the longest time that I can remember consists of the following (mineral and chemical nutritional info in parentheses):
- 1 banana (vitamins B6/C, potassium, seratonin)
- Peanut butter (magnesium, tryptophan) on wholemeal toast (magnesium)
- Milo in the form of milk (multi-vitamins, calcium, potassium, magnesium, tryptophan) and chocolate (tryptophan), along with the other additives that come with Milo
The items in bold are what we are interested here. Seratonin is a neurotransmitter important for mood regulation, as well as sleep and appetite. Tryptophan is a biochemical precursor for our bodies to produce more seratonin. And with this information, I finally understand why I’ve subconsciously stuck to this breakfast for so long.
Seratonin ingested through diet is usually good for temporary mood regulation, but that which is created by the body can be stored for later use. It is this that help us maintain a consistent state of mind. Therefore eating foods rich in tryptophan is a good idea. Some other dietary sources include:
- beef, pork, lamb
- sunflower and sesame seeds (although you have to eat a lot more of these than the others on the list)
Even if you never realised any of the above, like I did before I did this research, it is clear that eating a healthy and balanced diet is not just good for you physically but it is also good for your mental health. Is it any wonder that people who go on fad diets are usually a moody lot? 😉