Can Food Affect Mood?
Updated: Jun 26
There is no denying that your mood can affect your food choices: stress goes hand in hand with sweet or fried foods, a sad mood obviously demands a pint of ice cream, but can foods be causing shifts in your mood?
Can our immediate food choices alter our brain chemistry? Absolutely! Depending on the various amount and type of carbohydrates and protein the meal contains can greatly affect our neurotransmitters. The amino acids in our food are the precursors to our neurotransmitters that directly affect serotonin, one of the main hormones when deficient leads to depression. Serotonin isn’t just found in the brain, there is a great amount of it in our digestive system. Dopamine and norepinephrine work in the same way as serotonin by regulating our mood. Now it is no mystery why carbohydrate rich meals sound delicious when you’re stressed- it increases serotonin making you temporarily happy (1).
Food choices have a long term role in our mental state as well. Nutrition is important in managing and decreasing severity of mental disorders. Studies have shown regions like China have much lower rates of mental disorders than rates in America. This is attributed to the dramatic difference in dietary choices, the majority of American diets are low in essential amino acids, nutrients, and omega-3 fatty acids(2). Research has shown that some mental disorders are associated with nutrient deficiencies that act as neurotransmitter precursors (2). The most common conditions that have been studied to show benefit from nutritional supplementation are major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and obsessive compulsive disorder. The rise in the diagnosis of major depression over time has been linked to overall decreased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids (2). Foods like fish, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds and egg yolks are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
Your best bet when making food choices are those high in beneficial vitamins, amino acids, and omega 3 fatty acids. Green leafy vegetables have been found to be high in vitamin C, folate, and magnesium.
For more specific information make an appointment with Dr. Elisse Evans or contact your local naturopathic doctor.
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All posts and information provided within this blog is for informational and educational purposes only, and is not to be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action should be taken solely on the contents of this blog. Please consult your doctor or a qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health and well-being or on any opinions expressed within this blog.
"Food and Your Mood: Nutrition and Mental Health : NCHPAD - Building Inclusive Communities." Web log post. National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD). N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2016.
Lakhan, Shaheen E., and Karen F. Viera. "Nutritional Therapies for Mental Disorders." Bio Med Central. Nutrition Journal, 28 July 2008. Web. <https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-7-2>.