How what you eat affects your mood
The same way that weather can affect our mood, what we eat can as well. Have you ever thought about the connection between what you eat and your mood? Have you ever noticed that after eating certain foods your energy levels go down, you’re more irritable and get brain fog? Well there’s an explanation for this! What you eat does have effect your mood!
Did you know that there are more than 100 million neurons in the gut? The gut lining if filled with a network of neurons which produce important neurotransmitters that affect our mood, such as serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters have both physical and psychological functions that influence mood, appetite, sleep, sexual desire and wellbeing. Considering that 95% of the serotonin and 50% of dopamine is found in the gut, there is a strong connection between diet and mood.
Because the gut contains hundreds of millions of neurons, it is considered to be our “second brain”. The second brain is also known as the enteric nervous system. The enteric nervous system sends and receives impulses, records experiences and responds to emotions. Roughly, a third of the nervous system runs through the gut. That’s quite a lot!
We’ve all experienced butterflies in our stomach, or have had our appetite suppressed when we get nervous. That’s a response from our enteric nervous system. The same way that our emotions can influence our digestive system, our gut can also affect our brain. It’s a two way system.
Different foods have different reactions in our gut and make us feel a certain way. That’s why it’s important to feed your gut with foods full of nutrients and avoid eating foods that cause the gut to react negatively, and consequently, affect our mood.
The brain requires certain nutrients for healthy functioning, therefore, it’s crucial to have a diet rich in vitamins and minerals that can fuel the brain. An unhealthy diet rich in processed foods, sugar and unhealthy fats can increase levels of depression, anxiety, mood swings and decrease energy levels.
Eating processed foods full of sugar and refined carbohydrates, also known as empty calories, can be very detrimental to your gut, your health and your mood.
In order to create the much desired feel good neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, your digestive system requires certain nutrients. For example, it requires vitamin B12, iron and folate (vitamin b9). Other essential nutrients to boost mood are tryptophan, omega-3 and selenium. Omega-3 and selenium for example help combat depression, which in turn, helps improve mood levels and tryptophan is a natural mood booster.
Foods to include:
- Vitamin B12 rich foods: soy products, fish, shellfish and activated nutritional yeast (a good vegan source).
- Iron rich foods: chickpeas, wholegrain cereals, pumpkin seeds, soybeans, beans, lentils, spinach and sesame seeds.
- Folate rich foods: Leafy greens (kale, spinach, collard greens, watercress, broccoli, etc.) and whole grains.
- Tryptophan rich foods: seeds and nuts, soybeans, beans, oats, raw cacao, fish.
- Omega-3 rich foods: olive, sesame and coconut oil, avocado, nuts and seeds and salmon.
Foods and drinks to avoid:
- Refined carbohydrates
- Industrial bakery
- Soda drinks
- Refined sugars
A healthy diet not only will help you achieve a healthy anemic state, but will also boost your mood and energy!