Yes, This Food can Boost Your Mood
Did you know that what you eat can boost your mood? Because your digestive system doesn’t just help you digest food – it’s the control center of how you feel. In fact, your gut produces over 90% of the body’s serotonin, known as the “happy molecule”. A nickname that stems from its contribution to well-being and happiness. Research into mood enhancing foods and how food affects mood is fast becoming “the new black” in health management, with nutritional psychiatrists such as Dr. Naidoo showing how you can calm your mind with food and mood enhancing foods.
Below we will look at the fascinating connection between food and mood – and which foods to choose for a happier you.
Remember, variety in your diet is a key to success – and every little helps! As most adults, we are busy with trying to juggle jobs, spending time with friends, getting enough exercise, sleep, paying attention to kids, partners, pets, and what we eat…
So be kind to yourself, celebrate your wins along the way and enjoy the journey.
- You can also follow us on Instagram for more inspiration as we explore tasty, gut healthy recipes for busy lives with pets, kids, and careers.
How on Earth Can Food Boost my Mood?
We have trillions of microbes in our gut, also called the gut microbiome, and what we eat directly affects these microbes. By giving them the right nutrition, they will – like any living organism – thrive. And in turn help you feel better and boost your mood.
While no single food or type of food is a cure-all, mounting research tells us that incorporating certain mood enhancing foods into our diet can help improve mood and brain function. We’ll go into detail below, but first, here’s the short-list of foods to add next time you go to the grocery store:
Add these mood enhancing foods to your shopping list
Salmon, mackerel and sardines for healthy fats. Oats, yogurt and kefir. Beans, lentils and chickpeas. Almonds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts and Brazil nuts. Pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds. Bananas, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, spinach and kale. Ginger, turmeric, cinnamon and garlic. Eggs and chicken. Buckwheat tea, dark chocolate (70% or more) and extra virgin olive oil.
Discover the power of seed nutrition
Discover the science-backed health benefits of seed nutrition*
The Science Behind Mood Enhancing Foods
Beans and lentils. Beans and lentils are mood enhancing foods because they are packed with tryptophan, an amino acid that the body uses to make mood-boosting serotonin. They are also an excellent source of B vitamins, which help improve mood by increasing levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), all of which are important for regulating mood.
Add chickpeas, kidney beans or lentils to soups, stews, and tomato-based sauces for a budget friendly mood enhancing foods!
Nuts. Almonds, cashews, peanuts, and walnuts are excellent sources of tryptophan, magnesium, and zinc, which can help regulate mood and reduce anxiety. Furthermore, Brazil nuts and pine nuts are rich in zinc, and deficiency in these minerals is associated with higher rates of depression.
Eating a handful of nuts daily may help lower the risk of depression.
Seeds. Seeds are good for gut health and mood because they are high in plant-based proteins, healthy Omega-3 fats, and fiber. These mood enhancing foods also provide tryptophan, an amino acid responsible for producing mood-boosting serotonin. Certain seeds are high in tryptophan, zinc, and selenium, which may support brain function and lower the risk of depression.
The following are tasty examples of seeds to include in your diet: pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, flax, chia, hemp seeds.
Incorporating these seeds into your diet can provide various mental health benefits. Indeed, studies have shown that regularly eating small amounts of seeds can help reduce feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety.
Adding healthy fats and probiotics can boost your mood!
Fatty fish. Eating fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, contain omega-3 fatty acids, are mood enhancing foods that can improve your mental health. Research suggests that these healthy fats may have a mood-stabilizing effect and help with symptoms of depression.
It’s worth noting that the body can’t produce Omega-3 on its own and we must therefore get it through our diet.
Yogurt and kefir. New research suggests that yogurt can help anxiety and depression, which supports the growing evidence regarding the relationship between the gut and brain, and the effect diet has on our mental health. In fact, one study showed that eating a cup of yogurt containing live cultures every day could significantly reduce anxiety.
Similarly, research shows that drinking kefir milk regularly can improve brain health and mood. Note that it is suggested to consume fiber together with probiotics “as fiber is the fuel used by probiotic organisms while in the GI tract”. Source: 6 Health Benefits Of Kefir, According To Nutrition Experts – Forbes Health
You may also like this article on the benefit of kefir milk, as kefir is on the list of, as kefir is on the list of mood enhancing foods:
DISCOVER THE BENEFIT OF KEFIR MILK plus 9 top kefir brands
Fill up your grocery list with these mood enhancing foods
Oats. Oats are good for your mood for several reasons. They are a great source of fiber, which can help stabilize blood sugar levels and energy levels, leading to a more stable mood. Also, the slow-burning complex carbohydrates in oats can impact serotonin levels, which are linked to anxiety, and can help regulate mood and brain functioning. Oats are also packed with protein, B vitamins, and magnesium, making them one of the best foods to help reduce anxiety and depression.
Oats are great in home-made granola, easy overnight oats and to add fiber in waffles and pancakes.
Bananas. Bananas are considered mood enhancing foods because of their nutritional content. They contain vitamin B6, which helps manufacture serotonin. Additionally, bananas contain tryptophan, that the body uses to produce serotonin and melatonin – which in turn regulate mood and sleep. Bananas have a lot of prebiotic fiber and potassium, and this is linked to a good mood.
Buckwheat tea. Buckwheat tea is extremely calming and soothing – and it has shown to be very helpful in reducing stress and anxiety levels. CLICK HERE to purchase the best buckwheat tea, one of the Guts & Glory Health team’s absolute favorites.
Dark chocolate. Dark chocolate (containing over 70% cocoa) is good for your mood due to several reasons. It contains compounds such as polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties and have been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.
Furthermore, dark chocolate contains serotonin, which contributes to mood regulation and can help boost your mood.
Berries. Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries in particular, are known for their mood-boosting properties. They are packed with antioxidants and phenolic compounds, which may help manage inflammation associated with depression and other mood disorders.
Other Foods that can Boost your Mood …
Chicken. Poultry, such as chicken, are on the list of mood enhancing foods due to its nutrient content. Chicken contains the amino acid tryptophan, which is linked to higher levels of serotonin, the “feel good” hormone, in the brain. Also, chicken is a great source of vitamin B12, which is essential for mood regulation, and it also contains zinc, involved in brain function and development.
Eggs. Are good for your mood because they contain amino acids such as tryptophan, which is used to make serotonin – which in turn plays a vital role in mood, learning, and sleep.
They also contain choline, which helps improve mood, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, B vitamins, and iodide, nutrients that work together to battle fatigue and reverse bad moods.
Note! You need to eat the yolk, not just the egg whites, for these benefits.
Today’s modern diet is highly inflammatory, with too much sugar, ultra-processed foods, and additives. Eating foods that reduce inflammation on the other hand, can help reduce the risk of depression studies show. These are mood enhancing foods and rich in antioxidants, fiber, and phytochemicals, which can help prevent and limit inflammation. In fact, by adding anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, you can boost well-being and improve your mood.
Anti-inflammatory foods that are good for your mood include leafy greens such as kale and spinach, extra virgin olive oil, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, cherries, and garlic.
Limit ultra-processed foods
Just PLEASE limit the amount of ultra-processed foods you eat. If the ingredients listed are not commonly found in a kitchen, then it’s ultra-processed. In one 2022 study of over 10,000 adults in the United States, cited by The New York Times, the more ultra-processed foods participants ate, the more likely they were to report mild depression or feelings of anxiety.
- Read more about the negative effects of eating ultra-processed foods in Why Ultra-Processed Foods Should Make you Ultra-Concerned.
Mood Enhancing Foods Summarized
In summary, a growing body of evidence shows us that what we eat has major effect on our gut microbes and how they communicate with our brain. And this, in turn, influences how we think and feel. This is giving rise to the field of nutritional psychiatry, unravelling the fascinating and direct link between what you eat – and your mood.
- Read on to discover how gut health is related to mental health, and ways to improve your gut microbiome health.
SOURCES AND FURTHER READING
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Did you know that what you eat can boost your mood? Check out which foods to choose for a happier you.