Did you know that what you eat directly influences your mood? In fact, there’s an entire field of medicine called nutritional psychiatry, which basically means that the nutrients you consume are directly linked to your mental well-being.
Numerous clinical studies have linked poor diets with poor brain function, which can lead to mood disorders such as depression.
Here are four ways nutrients can repair your mood:
- Feed the Brain: The brain accounts for just 2% of your body weight, yet it gobbles up 25% of your daily energy and 40% of total nutrients . That’s because the nerve cells of the brain (neurons) require a tremendous amount of energy to function properly. Before joining the ranks of the millions of Americans feeding their brains anti-depressants, consider a nutrient-dense diet as the first line of defense. If you’re eating a wide range of nutrients, you’ll feel calmer and more content.
- Nourish Your “Happy Hormone”: The amino acid tryptophan produces serotonin, AKA the “happy hormone.” It influences everything from mood and emotions to sleep habits, pain sensation, appetite and more. Basically, we’re happier when our serotonin levels are high and sadder when our serotonin levels are low. In fact, 80% to 90% of the serotonin in our bodies is actually found in our gut, not the brain. This is precisely why a nutrient-dense diet is key to regulating mood.
- Coat Your Brain in Fat: Your brain is 70% fat so to keep it healthy and happy it needs to be constantly replenished with fat … it just needs to be the right kind! Omega-3 fatty acids offer a number of health benefits, such as improving cognitive performance and warding off mental and mood disorders. They support brain plasticity, which is your brain’s ability to change in response to stimulation demands placed on it, which could then enhance the expression of several molecules related to learning and memory.
- Gut is Your Brain’s BFF: Nutrients such as omega-3, magnesium, zinc, iron, selenium and vitamins B9, B6, B12, C and D have been proven to boost healthy serotonin production. Working synergistically, these nutrients not only improve brain function, but also improve mood and overall health. Additionally, a nutrient-dense, high-fiber diet fuels healthy gut bacteria, which research shows plays a role in serotonin levels through the gut-brain axis.
When you consume high quality foods packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants your brain thrives and can combat oxidative stress, which can damage cells. Conversely, when you opt for low-quality fuel found in processed or refined foods, your brain doesn’t fire on all cylinders.
Have you noticed a link between what you eat and your moods? We'd love to hear from you...comment below!