Life is great when we feel happy and buoyant. Activities take less effort, and there is an element of flow in all that we do. But when our emotions take a dip, even the easiest tasks can drain our energies to exhaustion.
As humans, we're forever seeking happiness, peace of mind, and bliss of life. It's as if every waking day, we spend our lives chasing these states of mind. Unfortunately, happiness and peace of mind remain elusive for many of us as long as we keep pursuing them.
As much as we pursue these states of mind, life will always throw us obstacles and hardship. Sometimes we will feel unhappy and unmotivated; tired and depressed. And in such moments, we're bound to start yearning for ways to stay happy.
But if we all understood how our body chemistry works and the fuels it consumes, maybe we wouldn't be on an elusive chase for happiness. Regardless, happiness can be found in many ways. Although short-lived, some people find it eating a tasty meal. Like during these hard times amidst a global pandemic and lockdowns, many people have fallen into the traps of depression and anxiety. Could it be that a delicious serving of pizza can lighten up one’s mood?
We explore that.
The link between food and mood
Eating a slice of pizza will not make your troubles go away or cure your anxiety or depression straight up! But a healthy slice or two can go a long way in shifting your mood. How is this so?
There is a strong link between the food we eat and our minds. More so, anxiety and depression can be linked to over-eating foods that affect our mood or not eating enough foods with those essential nutrients.
The food we eat contains brain-fueling nutrients. For our brains and bodies to function well, we need to eat a wholesome, balanced diet. The neurotransmitters in our brains need amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. These chemicals impact our brains' chemistry and emotions.
Serotonin is one of the chemical compounds our brains produce. It's one of the brain's natural 'happy, feel-good' chemicals. When this chemical is in abundance, we exhibit a calm, positive, and confident mood. We feel relaxed, easy-going, and flexible. In contrast, low serotonin levels bring anxiety and mood swings.
Produced in the digestive tract, serotonin is made up of an amino acid called tryptophan. For us to boost serotonin levels in our nervous system, we should eat foods rich in tryptophan. Such foods can be oats, cheese, nuts, and meats.
Once ingested, the body system breaks down the tryptophan contained in foods of such nature into serotonin.
From there, the brain absorbs the compound, bringing a therapeutic, well-being feeling.
Where Pizza comes in
Let's agree that not all pizza is healthy – most pizza out there contains junk food. And junk food is not good for the production and assimilation of the said brain chemicals. Eating foods enriched with essential nutrients that fuel our brains and bodies triggers the release of serotonin and endogenous opioids, chemical substances connected to our psychological mood.
To boost our serotonin levels, we should eat foods rich in Tryptophan, an essential building block of serotonin. Cheese and other ingredients used in pizza have a decent dosage of this amino acid.
Cheese has about 91 milligrams of tryptophan per ounce.
Whole wheat bread used for the crust has about 19 milligrams.
A slice of pizza with a cheese topping and a rising crust has around 0.188g of this amino acid.
In one research study, participants reported feelings of enhanced mood after being fed with pizza. Some participants were fed with other food-types as a control experiment – one, a nutritional drink with the same calorie content.
Far from nutrients that go in your pizza, sharing pizza with friends or family enhances feelings of joy. From a metaphysical point, thoughts are a form of electromagnetic energy. Sharing food and giving thanks with others creates an aura of positive energy, thereby promoting a happier state of mind.
So, if we're talking about eating a nutrient-dense pizza, then yes, eating a few slices you ordered from a pizzeria or baking a home-made keto pizza can elevate your mood - just like any other meal with serotonin-boosting compounds.
If you are gluten sensitive, a problem that limits tryptophan availability in the bloodstream and consequently inhibits serotonin's secretion, you can try gluten-free pizza dough.