The Food-Mood Connection

It is widely known that food has a direct impact on the body, but did you know that your diet can also affect your mind?

Your brain is constantly working, and it uses the nutrients obtained from the food you eat as its energy source. See how your brain might work differently running on healthy meals vs chips and soda?

Harvard Health Publishing compares fueling your brain to fueling an expensive car. Nutritious foods that are rich with minerals, antioxidants and vitamins are premium fuel which keep the car running smoothly, whereas low-quality options such as processed foods and sugary foods can damage the car and keep it from working properly.

A 2017 study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that high-sugar diets can hinder communication among brain cells and lower energy levels, leading to feelings of depression and anxiety. This is similar to a sugar crash, though symptoms become more serious and long-lasting the more you eat.

Another problem with consuming large amounts of sugar is that it can cause your blood levels to rise and fall, resulting in unreliable moods. Starches such as white rice, crackers and white bread can have the same erratic effects. However, it is important to note that moderate amounts of sugar are a perfectly acceptable part of a healthy diet.

On the other hand, probiotics have been shown to help decrease anxiety and improve mental outlook. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate moods, sleep and appetite, is produced in the gastrointestinal tract. So, scientists are discovering that there is a link between digestion and feelings.This is why foods rich in probiotics have positive effects on mental health, as probiotics assist in improving digestive health. These foods include yogurt, kimchi, kombucha and pickles.

Proteins such as eggs, poultry, seafood and tofu are also linked to mood-boosting. These proteins provide antioxidants, vitamins and minerals to nourish the brain and can actually increase the release of dopamine in your body.

Similarly, your eating patterns can affect your moods too. Healthline explains, “Eating at regular intervals helps to ensure that your body has a continuous source of fuel, and this may assist in keeping your mood stable.”

So what do we do with all this information?

Try avoiding sugary foods and switching to a diet richer in nutrients. Make an effort to add probiotics and protein into your diet, while being conscious of your sweets intake. Additionally, try to establish a constant eating pattern to keep your body and mind stabilized. A slice of cake isn’t going to kill you, but ask yourself—what kind of fuel do you want to be running on?