- How diet can impact your mood
- What you should and should not be eating to improve your mood
- Some points to remember
The Belly-Heart Connection
Anybody who has eaten pizza after a long day, or been denied the brownie-ice cream combo late at night, knows that the way to the heart is really through the belly. Food can play a huge role in changing our mood, but the connection might be deeper than just one single serving.
Though very important, the taste is not the ultimate reason why we eat food – we eat food because it provides our body and our brain with the energy to function. How our brain and body functions can thus be deeply impacted by the kind of food we eat. For example, studies have shown that consistently eating ‘low quality’ food (which is high in processing, refined sugar, and usually find in junk and packaged food) can impair brain functioning, and even impact mood by worsening the symptoms of mental health problems such as depression.
A poor diet can impact your mood significantly – after all, who feels good and happy when they face issues like acidity, bloating, or nausea?
However, the link between good food and good mood goes deeper, and studies have suggested that eating right can help in keeping you happy – literally. This is because our digestive tract produces an overwhelming majority of our body’s serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep, appetite, and yes – mood. As a result, our digestive tract contains many nerve endings, meaning that our mood is quite directly impacted by our digestive system. Atop this is the fact that the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin is strongly influenced by the ‘good’ bacteria present in our intestines, which help in a number of functions ranging from activating neural pathways to helping limit inflammation.
Hence, the belly-brain connection is quite deep indeed.
Eating Right – What to Eat and What Not To
While a bad mood can have a lot of reasons, your poor diet may also be playing a role here. Additionally,
diet is something that you can control and change, unlike many situational factors, and thus, you can use these changes to help regulate your mood. Here are a few tips that can help you out –
- Add Fibre To Your Diet – The unfortunate part of many diets and nutritional plans that abound on the internet is that they ignore fibre – the indigestible parts of plant food that play a very important role in our digestion. It helps in feel full after a meal, controles cholesterol and glucose levels, and helps in keeping bowel movements regular. All of this means a healthy stomach, and a healthier and happier you.
- Avoid Processed Food – Processed and packaged food, while easy to cook and often tasty, can pack a big punch to your gut over time. This food not only contributes to obesity and other other problems (which also bring about mood issues), but they also disrupt the balance of healthy bacteria in our gut, which, as we read above, can have serious negative consequences for our mood.
- Switch Sugary for Dark Chocolate – If you are craving something sweet and indulgent, why go for a pastry when you can have some decadent dark chocolate? This amazing treat is rich in many mood-boosting substances, can provide instant fuel to your brain, and also it is chocolate, so it is guaranteed to make you feel better. Opting for dark chocolate over milk ones also help in cutting down unnecessary sugar and fat.
- Cut Caffeine – The idea of giving up your daily cup or tea or coffee might actually put you in a horrible mood, but it may be the best for both your health and mood in the long run. While caffeine can provide a quick energy boost, it can also leave you feeling anxious and depressed and suffering from withdrawal symptoms. Try at least cutting down the amount you drink daily, and you might find yourself getting through the day without the itch to consume more after all.
- Add Water – It is often joked that water is marketed as the cure to all health ailments, but there is truth behind the jest. Water is fundamental to the functioning of our body, and lack of hydration can leave us feeling inflamed, irritated, and constipated. Lack of water also impacts cognitive functioning, and effectively leaves you feeling legarthic and irritated. So make the effort to always carry a water bottle with you, and you will surely feel better.
- Get Your Probiotics – As the summers roll around, a lot of us would be looking forward to some refreshing curd with our meals. While great in itself, this curd can be given an extra kick by making it probiotic – home to the good bacteria that reside in our gut and which produce our serotonin. Thus, this simple homemade favourite can easily turn to a powerhouse of mood and digestion boosting bacteria and help you feel better.
Alongside these diet tips, it is important to remember that when you eat is just as important as what you eat. Skipping meals or not eating when you are hungry can lead to drop in blood glucose levels and leave you craving foods, which can promote irritation, depression, and overindulgence of junk food. So be sure to eat when you are hungry, and eat healthy mood-boosting foods as described above.
A Point to Remember
Regulating your diet can have a great positive impact on both your physical and mental health. However, just like diet is not a complete answer to physical well being, changing your food habits cannot completely control your emotional troubles, especially if they are caused by identifiable external factors, consistent, or intense. Do not hesitate to seek professional help if you are struggling with your emotions.