Eat Plants, Be Happy! Increasing Joy with a Plant Based Lifestyle
Kickin’ Vegan, are you trying to tell me that eating plants will make me happy?
Yes. That is exactly what I am telling you. People who eat a plant based diet experience greater happiness. Science has proven the effects of eating 8 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables a day has a significant impact in feelings of satisfaction with one’s life. It’s not just because they feel good about themselves eating a healthy diet, it is actually caused by chemical changes in the body.
A Plant Based diet has been shown in some studies to reduce depression BETTER than medication. Given the side effects of medications for mental health, I would be strongly encouraged to give my eating habits a change before taking a prescription for the blues.
*Please do not throw out your meds and try managing mental illness on your own. Always get the guidance and support from your doctor or health care professional.
There are situations that are being managed with proper use of medications, however, there are far too many people being prescribed antidepressants who do not need them.
You don’t need to be suffering from depression to benefit from raising your mood. Maybe you have been feeling down lately with all of the new of the world and your day to day life. We can use our diet as a protective measure to keep afloat and feel positive and uplifted. It is possible to maintain a state of happiness as your even keeled “home base.”
We are going to talk about raising your levels of serotonin and increasing your mood by eating plants. It may keep you from feeling like you need to self medicate with things like alcohol, drugs, caffeine, sex, overeating or other stimulants, depressants, and harmful behavior.
Nearly 8% of Americans suffer from depression. People suffering depression who have switched to a plant based lifestyle first notice the feeling of a “fog lifting” after eliminating meat, dairy and processed foods. In my research over the years, I have read countless testimonials from people who suffered from depression for years and were diagnosed as clinically depressed, be able to completely eliminate their debilitating symptoms and go off their medications.
How does it work? Well, in two ways.
- Adding helpful foods.
- Eliminating harmful ones.
Our bodies are wonderful machines. They self regulate when we live as nature intended, but those days are long gone. Depression, or even a case of the bummers, occurs when we experience inflammation in the brain. This isn’t the same kind of inflammation that causes us to rush white blood cells to a fresh cut or scrape to aid in healing. We are talking about chronic inflammation on a cellular level. We also experience chemical imbalances in our neurotransmitters. So we want to reduce chronic inflammation, right? Bingo!
Plant Foods are naturally anti inflammatory. They are high in phytochemicals and antioxidants, and help to balance out our neurotransmitters so that they are working correctly. Vitamin C, antioxidants, and phytochemicals help to reduce inflammation and repair damage. Quercetin, found only in plants, is a natural MAO inhibitor and raises serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Nature’s happy foods containing quercetin include green tea, berries, apples, onions, and kale.
Animal fats, (including cheese!), chicken, fish and eggs cause inflammation. (Arachidonic Acid is the culprit, and it is found in all of these animal foods.) Anxiety, stress, and hopelessness are common feelings that arise when arachidonic acid caused inflammation reaches the brain. Yuck! No entry, if ya don’t mind! Even the positive effects of Omega 3s are cancelled out by the arachidonic acid and animal fats contained in fish, so you won’t receive the benefits by eating a high omega 3 fish diet. We will receive the benefits from omega 3s by eating walnuts, chia seeds, and flax meal. (I have them in jars on my counter, and we eat them every day.)
Plant based foods raise serotonin levels. Foods that help with this are dark leafy greens, soybeans, mushrooms, onions, seeds and broccoli and peas. Eating whole grains and beans, complex carbs, helps with the delivery and assembly of this process.
A high protein diet, as well as a diet including animal foods, limits the production of serotonin and can cause carbohydrate cravings, which can lead to pounds put on, leading to more blue feelings, etc.
Processed foods, like oils, sugar, and white flour are going to raise inflammation, so avoid these as well.
Looking for happiness and a brighter outlook as well as a feeling of satisfaction with your life? Then follow these rules for positivity through diet:
- Eat veggies, fruits, whole grains and beans. Get your protein from plants. (No need for a shake supplement or fake plant protein..it’s in this list already.Think beans and tofu.)
- Eliminate animal foods including fish, dairy, and eggs. Eliminate processed foods and swap them for whole grains.
You will start to feel effects as soon as you start to change the foods you eat. Digest them, and reap the rewards. You will feel that fog lift, and you will start to desire more engagement and physical activity. You will be less irritated by the things that bothered you. You will have more gusto for getting out of bed and you’ll start feeling excited about getting to your day. These have been scientifically proven effects of eating a Whole Food Plant Based Diet!
I have personally felt the effects on my mood when I have been having a rough go and looked to my diet. I overcame depression (undiagnosed, but a pretty deep set of the blues) in several phases of my life when I realized that I was eating too much crap and cleaned up my act. Junk food definitely put me in a junk mood.
I also cannot overlook the fact that we are what we eat. When you are consuming the flesh of something that has lived a life of fear and helplessness, you are bringing that energy into your body. We have to be conscious of this as well. I am sure you are eating “farm friendly raised animals,” etc. that don’t suffer cruelty, but if we are being really honest… Is he still alive? Did he pass from natural causes in old age in a field surrounded by loved ones? The fact is that 99% of the meat consumed in America comes from factory farms, so let’s do our part to end their suffering, and bonus! It end ours as well! Happiness is contagious after all.