Did you know that what you eat can have a big impact on your mood?
In fact, research has shown that there is a strong link between diet and mental health.
A healthy diet can help to improve:
- reduce stress
- boost energy levels.
On the other hand, an unhealthy diet can contribute to mood problems such as:
Ways Diet Can Affect Mood:
1. Nutritional Deficiencies
One way is through nutritional deficiencies. When you don't get enough essential nutrients, it can affect your mood. For example, low levels of iron, zinc, B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Let’s take a closer look at how low levels of the following nutrients can affect our mood 👀
- Iron can lead to fatigue, which can make it difficult to cope with stress and can contribute to mood problems.
- Zinc is important for brain function and low levels can be linked to depression, anxiety, and irritability.
- B vitamins are involved in many important processes in the body, including mood regulation. Low levels of B vitamins, particularly B6, B9, and B12, have been linked to depression.
- Magnesium is important for relaxation and sleep, both of which can impact mood. Low levels of magnesium have been linked to anxiety and depression.
- Vitamin D is important for brain health and low levels have been linked to depression, especially in winter months.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain health and low levels have been linked to depression, anxiety, and irritability.
2. Blood Sugar Fluctuations
Blood sugar fluctuations can affect mood in a number of ways. When blood sugar levels spike, it can lead to feelings of anxiety, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. When blood sugar levels crash, it can lead to feelings of fatigue, sadness, and mood swings.
A diet high in processed carbohydrates and sugary foods can cause blood sugar levels to spike and then crash. This is because these foods are quickly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream, causing a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. The body then responds by releasing insulin, a hormone that helps to lower blood sugar levels. However, insulin can also cause blood sugar levels to crash, which can lead to the symptoms mentioned above.
Tip - the latest research shows we manage blood sugar and lower spikes if we take a walk even for 5 minutes straight after eating.
Inflammation is a natural immune response to injury or infection. When your body is injured or fighting off an infection, it releases chemicals called cytokines. These cytokines help to fight the infection and repair the damage. However, chronic inflammation can have negative effects on the body, including mood problems.
Here are some specific examples of how processed foods, unhealthy fats, and sugar can promote inflammation 🔥 😣
- Processed foods often contain unhealthy fats, such as trans fats and saturated fats. These fats can damage the cells lining the gut, which can lead to increased inflammation. Processed foods also often contain high levels of sugar, seed oils, and other unnecessary ingredients.
- Unhealthy fats, such as trans fats and saturated fats, can damage the cells lining the gut, which can lead to increased inflammation. These fats are found in processed foods, such as fried foods, pastries, and fast food.
- Sugar can also promote inflammation. When sugar is consumed, it is broken down into glucose, which is a type of sugar that the body uses for energy. However, too much glucose can lead to high blood sugar levels, which can damage cells and tissues throughout the body, including the cells lining the gut.
Tip – increase anti-inflammatory foods in diet, these contain omega 3 and help balance the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6. Omega 3 rich foods include: oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and anchovies, as well as, walnuts, flax seeds and chia seeds.
4. Gut Health
Our gut health is closely linked to our mental health. A healthy gut microbiome produces beneficial chemicals that can improve mood, while an unhealthy microbiome can produce harmful chemicals that can worsen mood.
The gut microbiome is a complex community of bacteria that live in your intestines. These bacteria play an important role in digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune function. They also produce chemicals that can affect mood, such as serotonin, dopamine, and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid).
A diet that is high in processed foods, unhealthy fats, and sugar can disrupt the gut microbiome and lead to inflammation. Inflammation can damage the gut lining and make it difficult for the body to absorb nutrients. This can lead to mood problems, such as depression, anxiety, and irritability.
Tip – include complete proteins in your diet. Complete proteins contain the 9 essential amino acids we cannot make ourselves; we need to get them from our diet, these provide us with the building blocks for neurotransmitters and feel-good hormones. Examples of complete proteins include animal proteins such as meat, fish, eggs and dairy and for the vegans you’ve got quinoa or soba noodles, buckwheat or hemp as complete protein sources.
Tips for Eating a Healthy Diet for Mood
If you're looking for ways to improve your mood, making healthy changes to your diet is a great place to start. Here are some tips for eating a healthy diet for mood:
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can boost mood.
- Choose whole grains over processed grains. Whole grains provide sustained energy and can help to stabilize blood sugar levels.
- Include lean protein in your diet. Lean protein helps to build and repair tissues, including brain tissue.
- Eat healthy fats. Healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, can help to reduce inflammation and improve mood.
- Add probiotics to your diet. Probiotics are live bacteria that are good for gut health. They can help to improve mood by reducing inflammation and promoting the production of beneficial chemicals.
Eating a healthy diet is one of the best things you can do for your mood. By following the tips above, you can improve your mood, reduce stress, and boost energy levels. So, what are you waiting for?