Dr Michelle: Food and Mood

A well-balanced diet isn’t just beneficial for physical health, it is also important for mental health with poor nutrition often being a contributing factor to low mood.

How food can affect our mood?

When we lack nutrient-rich foods, our body is more likely to lack vital vitamins and minerals. This can affect our energy, mood and brain function.

Brain chemicals including serotonin, dopamine and acetylcholine can influence our mood and behaviour. These brain chemicals can be influenced by what we are eating.

If we have an allergy or sensitivity to a certain food or food group, this can result in low mood.

Fluctuations in blood sugar, which is associated with what we are eating, can affect our mood and energy.

How can I support my mood through food?

  • Aim for 5+ portions of fruits and vegetables a day. Fruits and vegetables contain several important nutrients which is important for mental health.
  • Stay hydrated, drink 2L of water each day.
  • Eat enough protein. Serotonin is made from the amino acid, tryptophan, which is found in foods such as meats, dairy, fruits and seeds. Serotonin is a chemical which improves mood and how we feel. 90% of this is made in our gut!
  • Fats are essential parts of our diet. Our brain needs fatty oils (such as omega-3 and –6) to keep it working well. Omega 3 can be found in oily fish, soybeans, flaxseeds, soy-based foods, walnuts and rapeseed oil. Omega-6 is found in poultry, eggs, avocado and most vegetables oils.
  • Eating regularly can maintain energy and blood sugar levels, which can help us stay concentrated and more focused during the day. Try snacking on nutrient rich foods like nuts or fruit during the day which will help maintain blood sugar levels.
  • Spikes and drops in blood sugar from eating high sugar foods can result in our energy levels dropping suddenly which can leave us feeling low, tired and irritable. Slow-release foods such as protein-based foods, nuts and seeds and whole grains release their energy slowly, this helps maintain energy levels throughout the day.
  • Food intolerances can leave us feeling low, from both physical and mental side effects. If you think you might have a food intolerance, I recommended speaking to your GP or nutritionist/dietician.

Eating a well-balanced diet, staying hydrated throughout the day and spending time outside is all likely to improve your mood.

If you want to get in touch to discuss how diet might be impacting your mood you can book a consultation with myself via my website.

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