For an introduction to what will be covered today and the next few days, check out Day 5.
Today I want to talk about one specific aspect of your diet that has a VERY profound effect on mood.
Since this is not a diet program, I don’t want to burden you with an overly restrictive diet, or even bore you with scientific details about why this works.
Rest assured, I will cover diet much more heavily in future posts, but for now, I just want to give you a very actionable and effective strategy for increasing your happiness.
An often neglected aspect of most peoples’ diets is the ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
A healthy ratio is between 1:1 and 1:4 of omega-6 to omega-3.
These fatty acids are two different types of polyunsaturated fats (look at the nutrition facts on most foods and you’ll see this). Both are essential in the human diet, but there is a problem.
The typical Western diet provides a ratio of between 10:1 and 30:1, which is obviously far from ideal, and causes many health issues.
Much research suggests that consuming omega-3 fatty acids has a positive effect on mood, and higher consumption is linked with lower rates of depression1.
With the explosion of packaged, processed foods in the past 100 years or so, the typical ratio has been thrown out of whack. That’s because processed foods tend to contain large quantities of omega-6’s, and little or no omega-3’s.
Similarly, the practice of feeding most farmed animals a diet of cheap grain rather than their natural diet has led to higher concentrations of omega-6’s in our meats as well.
It is nearly impossible to avoid these omega-6’s. They are essential in the human diet, so we aren’t trying to avoid them anyways.
Cutting some out of our diet would be nice; they are so prevalent that we almost certainly would get enough.
That being said, what we will do is increase our consumption of omega-3’s to help balance out the ratio, since that is considerably easier.
So, the exercise I am introducing today is to consume an extra serving of omega-3 fatty acids daily. This will benefit both your health AND your mood.
You can do this either through eating foods containing or consuming a supplement with omega-3 fatty acids.
If you choose to go the supplement route, I recommend Carlson’s fish oil. I have used this often, it doesn’t taste gross, and is high quality.
In general, liquid form is better than in capsules because it is both far cheaper and you can tell if it’s gone rancid. Consuming rancid omega-3’s is a terrible idea, and you can’t avoid it as easily with capsules.
Here are a bunch of animal foods containing high quantities of omega-3’s: salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, eggs (preferably omega-3 fortified or from chicken’s fed a non-grain diet), lean red meat (preferably grass fed), and turkey.
The best sources are cold water, oily fish like those I just listed (and especially if they are wild, not farmed), but many other types of fish also contain omega-3’s.
Other foods containing high quantities of omega-3’s include chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts.
The point of this exercise is to make a habit of it. Don’t expect to eat a serving of salmon and suddenly have waves of euphoria wash over you. But making this dietary change a part of your life will have serious benefits.
Continue to Day 7: Start Exercising.