How Foods Affect Your Mood
Millions of chemical reactions responsible for your brain function and mood are happening while you read this sentence. Neurotransmitters like serotonin, GABA, dopamine and norepinephrine constantly change depending on the time of day, on the patterns of your sleep and on your activities.
The balance of these neurotransmitters is delicate and responsible for feelings of happiness, lethargy, and alertness.
Studies show that your dietary choices have the biggest impact on these feelings and the state of your mood. From sugar consumption to caffeine to omega-3 fatty acids, read more below to find out which foods to consume in moderation and which foods to consume regularly for a healthy, balanced mental state.
Foods to include
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Recent research suggests that 500 mg of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation (EPA and DHA) can help mild to moderate anxiety. Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation helps to prevent natural cognitive decline over time and can be easily consumed as a capsule or a liquid (available from vegan-derived sources as well).
Spinach, chard and other dark leafy greens contain magnesium and other essential vitamins and minerals, which can positively influence serotonin levels and boost your mood. According to Health Canada, approximately 8-10 servings of fruit and vegetables daily are ideal for adults; this can be difficult to achieve daily, so we recommend a greens supplement with an ORAC value higher than 5’000 units.
A soluble fibre intake of about 10 grams daily has been shown to help to improve HDL/LDL cholesterol levels, improve blood circulation, balanced blood sugar levels, and a healthy gut flora. Better blood circulation means better nutrient delivery to the brain; a healthy gut flora is essential towards a balanced mood, since 90% of serotonin is made in your gut.
Try incorporating fibrous fruits and vegetables in your diet or add a fibre supplement with upwards of 25 grams of total fiber to your dietary regimen.
Consume in moderation
Studies reveal that overconsumption of caffeine (upwards of 400 mg per day) can lead to increased irritability and anxiety due to excess norepinephrine production, the hormone responsible for stress. If you’re a coffee connoisseur, there’s no need to quit cold turkey – simply keep your coffee consumption to 1-2 cups daily.
Regular alcohol intake (equal to or greater than one drink daily) can affect the levels of serotonin your brain produces, leading to potential feelings of depression and sleep cycle disruption. Additionally, excess alcohol intake can disrupt liver function, resulting in hormonal imbalances and further mood disruption.
Additionally, excess sugar intake can overstimulate dopamine production and result in dopamine resistance. The drastic peaks and lows in blood sugar levels can lead to mood instabilities as a result.
Be sure to support a healthy, balanced mood by including foods and supplements in your diet that are brain-friendly. Find them at your local CHFA Member health food store!