How Food Affects Your Mood

food and your mood

Change your diet and you can change your overall health… but can it also change your mood?

Serotonin, along with dopamine, is a chemical in the brain that influences your mood. The food you eat can actually influence your serotonin production. The most common foods that can boost your serotonin levels are carbohydrates, fish, and foods high in vitamin D.

With an increased amount of serotonin going to the brain, you may find yourself feeling happier.

How “Bad” Food Can Make You Feel Bad

Harvard explored the role unhealthy foods can play in negatively impacting your mood. Many Americans consume a “western” diet, as opposed to a Mediterranean diet that tends to be higher in vegetables, fruits, and seafood with minimal lean meats and dairy. Mediterranean diets also include less processed foods and sugars. It is estimated that those that consume a Mediterranean diet have a 25% to 35% lower risk of depression.

It is believed that when the brain is deprived of good nutrition there is an increased risk of damage to brain tissue.

Start Your Day Off Right

Breakfast’s role in our diets has been debated due to the benefits of intermittent fasting and time-restricted eating. The bottom line is most people do not eat a healthy breakfast that is rich in fiber, protein, and whole grains.  

A healthy breakfast has been connected to decreased levels of fatigue (as opposed to the burnout associated with sugary breakfasts) and decreased anxiety throughout the day.

Vitamin D

Critical for helping you build strong bones, Vitamin D is most commonly sourced from the sun or fortified foods. Because of seasonal changes, many individuals may receive more vitamin D from sunlight in the summer months, compared to the winter. As a result, researchers from the University of Toronto reported that cases of depression shifted in accordance with the weather over the course of a year.

The Perfect Combination?

Cleveland Clinic identifies the best meal to boost your mood is one that has “complex carbohydrates with lean proteins and colorful produce.”  Protein has been linked to increased dopamine levels in the brain, which influence your mood.  Fruits and vegetables on the other hand, which are always beneficial, have been shown to increase happiness based on a study from over 12,000 Australian adults.