How the Foods You Eat Can Affect Your Mood

smiling woman eating healthy food

The relationship between food and your mood is a complicated one. While studies are a work in progress, there are some things that science can tell us about dietary patterns and how they may impact your state of mind. Let’s take a look into these factors to help you be more mindful of what you chew on.

Complex Carbs

Your body needs carbohydrates to function. Clinical researchers have found that when you stop eating carbs, your brain stops regulating serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter. Researchers have indicated that an increase in serotonin levels can be related to a positive mood*. Carbohydrate consumption naturally stimulates the production of serotonin.

Carbohydrates in the form of whole grains provide lasting satiety and more fibre, which may assist with your physical health.

Micronutrients’ Role in Psychological Balance

Certain nutrients like magnesium are important for our psychological balance. A decline in magnesium status is associated with various signs, such as sadness, irritability or confusion**.

It has been scientifically recognised that magnesium contributes to normal psychological functions. Other micronutrients such as Biotin, Folate, Niacin, Thiamin, vitamins B6, B12 and C play an important role in maintaining normal psychological functions.

The Power of Fruit & Veg

These aren’t just good for your body – they’re good for your mind too! Studies have shown that a higher intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of depression and anxiety. In fact, some people rate their mood better on days that they eat more fruits and vegetables.

healthy food prep with chicken breast and salad

Why You Should Eat More Fish

Fish is an important part of the diet because it provides omega-3 fatty acids, which play an important part in brain function. Getting omega-3s from food is recommended. Sources include:

  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Herring
  • Flaxseed
  • Chia seeds
  • Walnuts

If you’re lacking any of these in your diet, an omega-3 supplement may be a good idea, as research shows that taking a fish oil supplement may also improve select signs.

The Importance of Taking Vitamin D

Vitamin D is sometimes called the sunshine vitamin because our bodies can produce it when we’re exposed to sunlight. This naturally becomes more difficult in the winter.

Studies have shown that participants with low vitamin D levels either suffered from or were at greater risk for depression.

Consider this your cue to stock up on vitamin D supplements or foods with ample supply, like fatty fish, cheese or egg yolks.

How to Maintain Gut Bacteria

The link is unclear, but the gut-brain connection is an exploding area of research. The aim is to understand how our gut and our brain interact together and influence one another.

Looking to add more foods that are good for your gut health into your diet? Some sources include yoghurt, kefir, fermented foods and kombucha.

There you have it – some food for thought! While we love this insight, we also recommend discussing your health goals with a healthcare professional. They can best assist you in deciding whether a certain food will be a helpful addition to your regime.

Written by Ariel Johnston, RD, LD

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*The psychological, neurochemical and functional neuroanatomical mediators of the effects of positive and negative mood on executive functions ; Mitchell RL, Phillips LH ; Neuropsychologia. 2007 Mar 2; 45(4):617-29

**Rude and Shils, 2006; FAO/WHO, 2001; O’Brien, 1999

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