The mood influencer we know and love the best – caffeine and its cousins (theophylline found in tea) and theobromine (found in chocolate). Eagerly taken to stimulate mental alertness, the amount of caffefine varies from the 10-50mg found in soft drinks to 100-175mg for a cup of drip-made coffee. Red Bull has 80 mg.
Want to feel calm? Feeling anxious? It’s a good-enough excuse to indulge in dark chocolate, but beware the calming benefits are maxed out after only 1/4 an ounce. No need to eat the entire candy bar.
Chocolate also triggers the release of endorphins, natural opiates which make the body feel “balanced” and de-sensitized to pain. Chocolate has tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps produce the mood-calming and anxiety-reducing neurotransmitter, serotonin.
Serotonin is also produce by eating complex carbohydrates. Although other factors are at play, consumption of complex carbohydrates may provide a means for controlling stress.
Also promoting a relaxed but alert mental state is theanine – an amino acid found in green and black teas. Theanine actually slows the frequency of brain waves, measurable on the surface of the head which improves learning performance, mental acuity, and concentration.
You can achieve the same effect by listening to classical music, hence the recommendation of playing classical musical to babies. This brain wave state facilitates learning of, e.g., foreign languages.
If you’re tired and moody, you might think eating simple sugars and refined carbohydrates can help. It can creating a wide mood swing that often ends in exhaustion with hints of depression.
Unfortunately American consumes about 150 lbs of refined sugars and about 400 lbs of refined carbohydrates. This elevates blood sugar levels causing insulin to be released which may cause a precipitous drop in blood sugar. When that happens, some tend to express more primitive and aggressive behaviors.
Based on an article in Prepared Foods Exclusive: The Food – Mood Enigma by John J. Smith, Ph.D.