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
  • Eggs
  • Soybeans
  • Kidney Beans
  • Avocados
  • Figs
  • Milk
  • Almonds
  • Tofu
  • TunaSalmon
  • Chickpeas
  • Bananas
  • Sunflower Seeds

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Other tips to support your moods:

Vitamin D

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.

Smart Carbs

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.

Go Nuts

  • 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.

Gabriela and team


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About The Author

Family Nutritional Therapist

Gabriela Peacock completed BSc (Hons) in Health Science (Nutritional Therapy) from the University of Westminster and Nutritional Therapy Diploma from The College of Naturopathic Medicine, London. Gabriela is a member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT), adheres to the strict BANT Code of Ethics and Practice. A background in fashion modeling enlightened her to the importance of a nutritious diet and its impact on maintaining a youthful body image. Through the application of Nutritional Science, Gabriela looks to identify biochemical imbalances which may prevent optimal health. Guidance is tailored to complement medical treatment and promote health through the provision of nutrient rich food choices and supplement protocols. Gabriela's approach is patient-centred and evidence-based: she recognizes that each person is an individual, with unique requirements and differing health goals. Patients can expect tailor- made support based on comprehensive health screens, dietary assessment, laboratory testing and ongoing nutritional management. Amongst other diagnostic tools, Gabriela offers wide range of tests to identify systemic imbalances. These tests include: Comprehensive Digestive Health Analysis Food Intolerances and Allergies Cardiovascular Testing Assessment of Hormonal Imbalances Nutritional Health Screening As well as addressing individual diagnosis, Gabriela has developed programme themes on the basis of concerns she has most commonly encountered in her London-based patients, and reflecting her specialist research interests. These include: Weight Management Detoxification & Liver Cleanse Immune Support Healthy Skin & Ageing

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