By Anita Agarwal
Qualification : Masters in Nutrition
Tuesday August 22 2023 20:43 PM Comments 0
Its no secret that what we eat has a significant impact on our physical health, but did you
know that it can also affect our emotional well-being? The food and mood connection is a
fascinating area of research that sheds light on how our dietary choices can influence our
mood, behaviour, stress levels and overall mental health. The right foods will leave you
energized and increase brain functions while the wrong foods can leave you lethargic and
In this article, we will explore the science behind the relationship between food and mood
and discover how making mindful food choices can lead to a happier and more balanced
Nutrients for a Happy Brain
Certain nutrients have been linked to better mood regulation and emotional well-being. For
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found in fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds, omega-3 fatty acids are
essential for brain health and may reduce the risk of depression and anxiety.
Antioxidants: Fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, such as berries, spinach, and kale,
help protect the brain from oxidative stress, promoting a positive mood.
B Vitamins: Foods like whole grains, legumes, and leafy greens provide B vitamins like folate
and B12, which are crucial for the production of neurotransmitters that regulate mood.
The Role of Serotonin
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter commonly known as the "happiness hormone." It plays a
crucial role in regulating mood, sleep, and appetite. Surprisingly, about 95% of the body's
serotonin is produced in the digestive system, not the brain. Therefore, the food we eat can
directly impact serotonin production.
Carbohydrate-rich foods, especially those with complex carbohydrates like whole grains, can
increase serotonin levels. However, it's essential to opt for healthier carbohydrates to avoid
blood sugar spikes and crashes that may negatively affect mood.
Gut Health and Mental Health
Did you know that your gut or gastro – intestinal tract and brain are connected? They
communicate through nerves and signals. Inside your gut, there are trillions of bacteria
called the gut microbiota. These are both good and bad. Some bacteria in excessive
amounts, can cause infection and disease while other types of bacteria in right amounts
help with digestion and overall health. Recent studies have shown that these gut bacteria
also influence brain function and behaviour, impacting mood, anxiety, and stress levels. This
balance of good and bad bacteria can be maintained by use of Probiotics, which are live good bacteria like those naturally found in the gut. Common probiotic foods are yogurt,
buttermilk, idli, dosa, uttapam, pickles, kanji, olives in brine, sauerkraut, miso, kimchi etc.
The Impact of Processed Foods and Sugar
While some foods can improve mood, others may have the opposite effect. Processed
foods, high in refined sugars and unhealthy fats, have been associated with an increased risk
of depression and anxiety. These foods can cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels and
trigger inflammation, which negatively impacts brain health.
The food and mood connection is a powerful reminder of how intertwined our physical and
mental health truly are. Making conscious choices about the foods we consume can lead to
positive effects on our emotional well-being, reducing the risk of mood disorders and
enhancing overall happiness. To harness the benefits of the food and mood connection,
adopt a balanced and varied diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. By
nurturing your gut health and providing your brain with essential nutrients, you can pave
the way to a happier and more fulfilling life.
Posted On : Monday June 19, 2017, 08:57 AM
Posted On : Monday June 19, 2017, 09:56 AM
Posted On : Monday June 19, 2017, 10:20 AM