How does food affect mood?
Feeling good in your body and mind requires balance across all aspects of your life, including your diet. Symptoms that can result from a poor diet include mood swings, irritability, insomnia and poor concentration. These are all signs that the brain and body may not be receiving the nutrients it needs. Moods and energy levels are influenced by neurotransmitters and the consumption of certain foods can affect the levels of neurotransmitters made in the brain. Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that are made from protein. Examples include: serotonin, dopamine & acetyl choline.
Serotonin is the ‘feelgood’ neurotransmitter needed for healthy moods, sleep and appetite control. Tryptophan is a specific amino acid that makes serotonin. It is suggested that by consuming foods rich in tryptophan you can influence levels of serotonin made in the brain.
Food sources high in tryptophan:
- Cottage Cheese
- Turkey & Chicken
- Kidney Beans
- Sunflower Seeds
Other tips to support your moods:
Taking a regular vitamin D supplement with the suggested intake of 1500 2000iu for your age will support your body’s levels of the all important vitamin and put you on track until the sun shines again. Vitamin D is known to help support mood and wellbeing in those with SAD.
Carbohydrates may be the foe of fad diets, but they’re vital for boosting energy and mood. They are the body’s preferred source of fuel, plus they raise levels of the feel good chemical serotonin. The key is to avoid sweets, which cause blood sugar to spike and plummet, making you feel tired and moody.
Instead, pick whole grains like granary bread, brown rice, and oats. Your body absorbs whole grains more slowly, preventing your energy and mood from plummeting.
Cut back on antinutrients. Fizzy drinks, sugar, coffee, tea, alcohol and cigarettes interfere with our body’s ability to absorb important minerals. By reducing your consumption of these ‘antinutrients‘ you can increase the intake of health and mood enhancing nutrients.
Maca is an adaptogen which means it brings balance and can help the body regulate stressors in the diet. You can find it as a powder or in capsule form and is a useful addition for those feeling stressed.
- Cashews, almonds and hazelnuts are rich in protein and magnesium a mood boosting mineral.
- Good sources of magnesium include whole grains, particularly bran cereals, and some fish, and leafy greens such as beet greens and chard.
- Add Brazil nuts to the mix for selenium, a mineral that may be a natural mood booster. Studies have linked low selenium to poorer moods. But don’t overdo it: too much selenium is harmful.
Exercise is another way to boost energy and mood, even a 15min walk can be energizing. Studies show that regular exercise may help ease depression and trigger other changes in your body that give you more energy all day long. Take a walk or yoga break or short guided meditation.