Jan 02 2014

Eating cotton candy makes me feel ecstatic!  Trust me, my cousin got me a Cotton Candy maker for Christmas because he overheard that it’s a huge weakness of mine.

Mostly because it brings a nostalgic feeling of being a kid walking around the baseball park with my teammates after playing our game, which we usually won because we were awesome and back then we always kept score.  I don’t know where the whole idea of not keeping score came in.  The idea of everyone is a winner doesn’t make sense to me.  You win some and you lose some. When you fail or lose, you work on things to improve and you persevere. If you always won, then there would not be any use for the work – success.

I digress…Where was I?

Cotton Candy.

Initially it makes me feel all warm inside on a sugar high but I know it’s only a matter of time before I crash and burn.  Whenever I talk about food choices and nutrition, it’s based on what will help you burn fat, build muscle and improve performance.

But an interesting aspect of nutrition many people over-look, including myself, is certain foods’ ability to improve your mood which will minimize the crappy .  This is especially important for those of you who train consistently on top of a full-time job,  family, and social life.  All of which can create some sort of stress.

After a little research I came across specific foods that has been found to enhance your mood as well as improve brain function.

1. Greek Yogurt

Packed with calcium and a nice amount of protein, Greek Yogurt, has always been a go-to snack for me.  But the most important element of greek yogurt isn’t the protein, it’s the calcium.  Calcium is an essential mineral that isn’t only good for your bones but also muscle contraction and the release of feel-good neurotransmitters.  Research found, disturbances in your calcium levels can lead to stress, anxiety, depression, and lack of concentration.

Suggestion: Plain FAGE or GREEK GODS.  All flavored ones are filled with sugar.  You’d be better off adding a small amount of granola and fresh berries.

2. Fish

Let me just say, I love fish! Okay.  Not only because I was raised on eating fish but they are also packed with omega-3 which is something our bodies don’t produce.  Aside from all the great benefits of omega-3s, they are also known altering brain chemicals linked to mood – such as dopamine and serotonin.  Quick overview of these two chemicals.

Serotonin – low levels of this chemical is linked to depression and aggression.

Dopamine – the good feeling chemical that is released during pleasurable experiences

3. Tomatoes

“I hate vegetables,” I said to my wife on our first date of freshmen year of college at Jack in the Box.

She looked at me while I chomp down on a deluxe burger, “You mean, you don’t like lettuce?”

“I do.”

“Broccoli?”

“Oh I love broccoli.”

“Tomatoes?”

“I like tomatoes too.”

“Hmph…”

Yea, great first date conversation right? But yes, all varieties of tomatoes are a great source of two antioxidants called lycopene and beta-carotene.  Lycopene and beta-carotene helps protect the fat tissue within the brain and aids in reducing inflammation and the regulation of cell-growth.  Beta-carotene is also known for helping prevent heart disease.  A healthy heart means a healthy head.

Interesting fact: Research found juicing and cooking tomatoes drastically concentrates lycopene which will assist in its absorption.

4. Asparagus

Yea, I know.  Asparagus can make your pee turn color and not smell so great.  But at least it’ll make you have a better mood.  These green spears are one of the best plant-based sources for tryptophan, which serves as the foundation for the production of serotonin, which was mentioned in #2.  No wonder salmon and asparagus is a great pairing. Asparagus also has a high concentration of folate.  Studies found that up to 50 percent of people with depression have low levels of folate.

5. Coconut Oil

No I’m not jumping on the coconut bandwagon.  First off, all the health gurus said coconut is bad because it has too much fat, but now all those health gurus are saying its AWESOME.  Growing up in Hawaii we grew up eating coconuts straight from the tree in our backyard.  At that time we didn’t really know the benefits, it was something we enjoyed. The fats in coconut oil is called MCTs which many studies found they are used quickly by the brain and body to increase energy and aid in detoxification of liver.  It also aids in the production of serotonin and has been found to help prevent heart disease.  Just knowing that, I feel better already.

Share this article with your peeps, especially if you know someone who’s been grumpy lately.

Want More Tips on Improving Your Fitness, Nutrition, and Building a Kū Body?

Feel free to sign-up for The Aipa Project’s newsletter.  Each week is filled with tips, articles, and Kū-ness sent to your inbox.

Aloha and Be Kū!