Did you know certain foods have been proven to improve your mood? Discover the food-mood connection and learn how to feel better for longer.
Have you ever noticed the way your mood changes when you’re hungry? Or the energy high (and then slump half hour later) when you devour something sweet and sugary?
Not only does your mood influence your food choices, but the food you eat also influences your disposition and behaviour. Depending on the types of foods you put into your body, your mood can differ and fluctuate.
To help you manage this food-mood connection, and keep you feeling better for longer, our team at Melrose Health have explored some of the different foods to eat or avoid for a better, more balanced mood.
Improve your mood with food
Awareness of the food-mood connection has been around for centuries, with various proverbs and sayings, like the ones you may have heard your mum or grandmother quote:
- You are what you eat
- Healthy diet, healthy mind
- It’s all about balance
- Healthy means eating the right foods in the right amounts
- An apple a day keeps the doctor away
- Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food
Perhaps old fashioned, and maybe a little trite, but these sayings are based on fact: Appropriate food choices play a significant role in mood enhancement.
Although it doesn’t take a scientist to acknowledge that the connection between food and mood is occurs, let’s look why this occurs.
Many nutrients are required for the production of enzymes and hormones that are involved in the nervous system and processes that influence our mood, brain function and behaviour. Imbalances or deficiencies in any of these nutrients negatively impact neurological functions and may cause depressive symptoms.1
Hormones and neurotransmitters that influence our mood include serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline. The key nutrients involved in their production and function include: B vitamins, alpha-lipoic acid, co-enzyme Q10, tryptophan, zinc, magnesium, vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.
Foods that support these feel-good hormones are rich in these vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They nourish and support the body, helping to beat fatigue, lift the spirits and provide the fuel for a balanced outlook.
Keep these foods on the menu for your daily diet:
- Unprocessed foods, as nature intended
- All fresh fruits and vegetables, eating a wide variety
- Lean proteins
- Omega-3 fats from salmon, sardines, flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts
- Whole grains and complex carbohydrates, such as brown rice, quinoa and legumes
- Raw and unsalted nuts
- Non-caffeinated beverages, such as water and herbal teas
A good model to follow is the popular, primarily plant-based Mediterranean diet. Like the list above, it recommends a high intake of vegetables, fruit, omega-3 rich fish, nuts, legumes and olive oil, with small amounts of meat and dairy. This diet has been connected to reducing many chronic diseases as well as declines in mental health and cognition. A 2013 study found that women (aged 60) who followed a Mediterranean-type eating pattern were 46% more likely to age healthfully,2 providing a better quality of life.
Another important factor to improve mood when we eat is how we consume the food. Eating in a happy or social environment with family or friends also has a positive impact on our wellbeing.3
There’s no supplementing your way out of a bad diet, but sometimes busy schedules can throw us off-track. Adding a high-quality natural product like Essential Greens or Essential Reds can help to increase beneficial nutrients in your diet when you don’t have access to fresh food.
Avoid bad moods caused by devoid foods
While it is essential to know the foods that help improve your mood, it is also important to be aware of the foods to avoid or only consume in small quantities. Again, we don’t need to be scientists to know that the usual suspects are:
- Highly processed foods (most foods in packets far removed from how they originally occur in nature)
- Sugary drinks (like alcohol, fruit juices and soft drinks)
- Simple carbohydrates (white bread and baked goods)
These have been linked to providing bursts of energy followed by extended periods of lethargy and depressed mood, due to their effects on our hormones and neurotransmitters.
Foods high in trans fats, like potato chips, pizza and fast food, have been linked with decreasing serotonin levels, causing your mood to decline and ultimately leave you feeling less than your best.
Contrary to popular belief, alcohol is a depressant that changes the chemical makeup in the brain, and contributes to a negative mood and frame of mind. The consumption of large amounts of alcohol can increase anxiety, particularly the next day, and regularly results in poor sleep quality.4,5
To enhance the benefits of the food-mood connection, it is important to eat only small amounts of these devoid foods, ensuring you maintain a balanced, nutritious diet.
The relationship and benefits between food intake and our mood is bidirectional: Better food choices provide a better mood, and with a better mood we are more likely to choose better foods.
Increase your nutrition and mood with Melrose Health
At Melrose Health, our mission is to support you as you achieve your health goals. With our quality products, you can complement a nutritious diet and experience the mood-boosting benefits that only a healthy, balanced diet can provide. Browse our range of products today or contact us to discuss your requirements with our team.
Hoepner CT, McIntyre RS, Papakostas GI. Impact on supplementation and nutritional interventions on pathogenic processes of mood disorders: A review of the evidence. Nutrients 2021;13:767.
Havard TH Chan. The Nutrition Source. Diet review: Mediterranean diet, December 2018. Harvard Collage 2022, https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/diet-reviews/mediterranean-diet/
Holder MD. The contribution of food consumption to well-being. Ann Nutr Metab 2019;74(suppl 2):44-51.
Clinical Reference Group. How does alcohol affect mental health, 9 Aug 2018. Headspace 2022, https://headspace.org.au/explore-topics/for-young-people/alcohol/
Stein MD, Friedmann PD. Disturbed sleep and its relationship to alcohol use. Subst Abus 2005;26(1):1-13.
Note: Melrose has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care practitioner.