This ultimate breakfast comfort food is also a mood stabilizer. The carbohydrates in oatmeal elevate your blood sugar levels, therefore boosting your serotonin, says Mills. While any source of sugar—a handful of hard candy, say—will do the same, your body digests those sugars so quickly that your blood glucose quickly spikes and then crashes, wrecking your mood. With a bowl of oatmeal, you also get fiber (4 grams per ½ cup), and that slows down the digestion of carbs. “Slowing down the absorption evens out those blood sugar spikes and valleys,” Mills explains. “So oatmeal will sustain your blood sugar level—and parallel serotonin level—at an even plateau, which minimizes a potential crash and craving for carbs later in the morning.”
We take plain old water for granted, but it deserves credit as a mood booster, says Mills. “We often overlook how important water is to our ability to feel good,” she observes, “If you’re sleepy, lacking energy, or unable to concentrate, the culprit could be dehydration.” She suggests following the daily recommendations from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine of 15.5 cups of water per day for men, and 11.5 for women; you can get it from coffee, tea, fluid-filled foods like fruits and veggies, and your tap. “Plain water is best because it requires the least processing by your body, so it’s readily absorbed within 15 to 20 minutes and you quickly feel the effects of being hydrated.” For those who need some flavor, she adds, you could put a pitcher of water in your fridge with cut lemon or lime, or even purchase flavored seltzers (just make sure the nutrition panel shows 0’s across the board). Find out the vitamins for depression that can help boost your mood.
In addition to blocking cancers and boosting heart health, there’s another reason to binge on veggies: They’re packed with folate, and research links low levels of this B vitamin to depression, reports VeryWellMind. A 2017 paper in the Journal of Psychiatric Research revealed that people who had depression had lower blood levels of folate and got less of the vitamin from their diet compared to people who were not depressed. Researchers aren’t clear on the connection, but it’s possible that a folate deficiency may hamper the metabolism of mood-related neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and noradrenaline. You can fill up on feel-good folates by eating more spinach, edamame, avocado, and broccoli. You could also find this mood-boosting nutrient in lentils and beans.