What if you discovered that the best place to begin your personal pursuit of happiness was at the end of your fork? Well, prepare to polish your silverware. Emerging research from the fields of neuroscience and nutrition reveals that you can stabilise your mood, improve your concentration, boost your brain health and trim your tummy—simply by changing the foods you eat.
We call this approach the Happiness Diet. And don’t worry; it’s not all carrot sticks and raw broccoli. This eating plan includes foods that are rich in vitamins A, B12, D and E, as well as folate, iodine, magnesium, calcium, iron, fibre and omega-3 fatty acids. These key nutrients are your Essential Elements of Happiness.
Food directly affects three brain regions that create your ‘happiness ability’. The first of these is your capacity to focus, think, plan and remember, which demands Foods for Thought. The second is your ability to power through a deadline and control anxiety, so you’ll need Foods for Energy. And the third is emotional regulation, which requires Foods for Good Mood.
Want to tap into the mental wellbeing that comes from following the Happiness Diet? Stick to these four simple rules:
1. Reduce the amount of processed food you eat
Much of it is loaded with sugar, and too much of the sweet stuff actually contributes to the shrinkage of key brain areas involved in mood regulation.
2. Eat more fruits, vegetables and wholegrains
Plant foods contain minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients—the Essential Elements of Happiness that your brain needs to function at its best.
3. Opt for grass-fed meat, whenever possible
Compared with typical grain-fed meat, the grass-fed variety contains more omega-3 fatty acids, an Essential Element of Happiness that encourages your brain to form new connections.
4. Strive for variety
The greater the range of wholefoods you consume, the broader the range of brain-boosting nutrients your diet will naturally contain—and the sharper, happier and more energised your mind will be.MORE: 5 Happiness Myths Busted