Foods That Influence A Positive Mood

Most of us already know and feel how food affects our mood, and studies support this. 

In this article, I will take a close look at how food affects our mood, and more importantly, which foods positively influence our mood. I will also advise on some supplements that can help uplift our spirit in times of need.

How Food Affects Mood

Firstly, it’s important to note that how often we consume food during daylight hours, will also affect our mood. If we eat often enough and don’t skip meals, then a stable blood sugar level will help maintain a positive spirit as well as more self-control with much more ease. 

I suggest aiming to eat regularly and snack regularly, at similar times every day. This ensures that your body always has enough sustenance to keep it going under optimal conditions, which leads to stable blood sugar levels leaving you in a good mood. [1]

Naturally, the food you eat is also critical. It has been shown that unhealthy diets (high in processed foods and simple sugars) consumed over a long period of time will cause depression. [2] 

I suggest aiming to eat regularly and snack regularly, at similar times every day. This ensures that your body always has enough sustenance to keep it going under optimal conditions, leaving you in a good mood. [1]

Naturally, the food you eat is also critical. It has been shown that unhealthy diets (high in processed foods and simple sugars) consumed regularly will cause depression. [2] 

When it comes to sugar, studies have shown how it is in close connection to stress. When we’re under stress, our bodies crave any quick fuel that will help support it during the stressful period. One of the fastest fuels is indeed simple sugars and foods that contain these simple sugars. This is why we crave sugar-rich foods when we are under a lot of pressure. [3] However, providing our body with simple sugars will only meet our immediate needs but at the expense of long term health. Furthermore, the sugar itself doesn’t help reduce stress, but actually, in the long term it adds stress by causing inflammation in specific tissues of the body; it’s much better to exercise or meditate as a method for reducing stress.

Foods That Influence Mood

Certain nutrients and foods have specific effects on our mood. Complex carbohydrates for example increase the absorption of the amino acid tryptophan which is connected to mental health. 

Tryptophan is converted into serotonin, the “feel good” and calming neurotransmitter which reduces symptoms of depression and contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness.

Since tryptophan is the least abundant amino acid available, when we consume a protein-rich meal rich in amino acids, this will hinder tryptophan from entering the brain, and tryptophan will cross the blood-brain barrier last of the amino acids. 

But when eating a carbohydrate-rich meal that is also rich in fiber, with a little protein, then tryptophan will readily cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain. This is because when carbohydrate-rich foods are consumed, the body releases insulin, which diverts the other amino acids to the muscles but leaves tryptophan untouched allowing tryptophan to enter the brain and promote its soothing effect there. The good news is that now research also proves that serotonin helps curb appetite, which will already put you in a better mood 🙂

The fiber in the meal is essential as it not only helps maintain a steady blood sugar level for a more extended period of time, but fiber also encourages a healthy microbiome. Since over 90% of the serotonin in the body is produced in the gut, a healthy microbiome optimizes the production of serotonin improving mood and overall well being. 

High fiber foods include whole grains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, peas, Brussels sprouts and other dark-colored vegetables, oats, pears, and apples with peel, as well as mangoes, bananas, guavas, and berries. [5]

You do want to reduce alcohol intake because alcohol decreases tryptophan in the body by roughly 25%, driving a similar decline in serotonin.

There are also foods that have higher levels of the amino acid tryptophan. You definitely want to include these foods regularly to your diet. These foods include Spirulina, chia seeds, sesame seeds, watermelon seeds, flaxseeds, cashews, pistachios, almonds, potatoes, and soya beans.

Vitamins also have a positive effect on disposition. For example, Vitamin D can help relieve some symptoms of mood disorders. Read more about this incredible nutrient  here:

Vitamin B-12 can also help reduce the risk for depression. [6]

Other mood enhancing supplements include: Ginkgo Biloba which supports circulation in the brain and has potent antioxidant activity, Phosphatidyl Serine, which helps maintain neuronal membrane fluidity and protects against stress, Rhodiola Rosea which assists the body in accommodating stress and St. John’s Wort which supports a healthy nervous system and a positive, balanced mood state just as omega 3 fatty acids do. 

Conclusion

Healthy and regular eating is not only crucial for optimal health but also great for your mood. If you strive to use as many foods and nutrients that I’ve mentioned in this article, you can effectively ‘hack’ your attitude and start feeling much better most of the time.

Feel free to comment below and let me know what you liked best about this article.

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Thank You, 🙂

Galit Goldfarb

References:

[1] From mood to food and from food to mood: A psychological perspective on the measurement of food-related emotions in consumer research. lEgon P.Köster Jozina Mojet. Available online 11 April 2015. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodres.2015.04.006

[2] Dietary Patterns and Depressive Symptoms over Time: Examining the Relationships with Socioeconomic Position, Health Behaviours and Cardiovascular Risk. Felice N. Jacka, Nicolas Cherbuin, Kaarin J. Anstey, Peter Butterworth. January 29, 2014. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0087657

[3] Relationship between stress, eating behavior, and obesity. Susan J. Torres, M. Nutr. Diet. Caryl A. Nowson Ph.D. Available online 17 September 2007. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nut.2007.08.008

[4] Intake of Mediterranean foods associated with positive affect and low negative affect. Patricia A. Ford, Karen Jaceldo-Siegl, Jerry W. Lee, Wes Youngberg, Serena Tonstad. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychores.2012.11.002

[5] Dietary fiber, mood, and behavior. Logan, Alan C. Nutrition; Kidlington Vol. 22, Iss. 2, (Feb 2006): 213-214. DOI:10.1016/j.nut.2005.06.005

[6] Vitamin Supplementation for 1 Year Improves Mood. Benton D. Haller J. Fordy J. Neuropsychobiology 1995;32:98–105. https://doi.org/10.1159/000119220