Food and Mood

Food and Mood

While most of us understand the connection between healthy eating habits and physical fitness, fewer know of the effects of food on mood.

The gut and the brain are intimately connected through something known as the gut-brain axis, and science tells us that the health of our gut bacteria has a direct influence on our emotional state.

How does food affect our mood?

Our gut contains trillions of micro-organisms that are collectively known as the microbiome. Disruption of the microbiome from eating unhealthy foods has been linked to the development of anxiety and depression. Additionally, the gut bacteria produce and regulate 95% of the body’s Serotonin (a neuro-transmitter that plays a vital role in regulating our mood, appetite, and sleep cycle) so healthy balance of the microbiome is essential for Serotonin regulation. All of this tells us that what we eat will affect how we feel.

Gut Inflammation, Depression, and Addiction

Gut inflammation is one of the key factors in disrupting the microbiome. Refined sugars are known to be one of the main culprits in the development of gut inflammation and are strongly linked to the development of depression. Sugar is highly addictive as it impacts Dopamine, a neuro-transmitter that drives the reward system in the brain. Research has shown links between the over-consumption of sugar and drug addiction, as well as issues of cross-dependency between sugar and drugs of addiction. 

Seeking Professional Help

While general information is useful, dietary needs are highly personal. Finding a diet to suit your particular situation (particularly if you have food allergies or sensitivities) requires an individual approach. Seeking the help of a licensed nutritionist or dietician is a good investment to get a personalized program that meets your specific needs. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is a useful resource for finding an expert.

Additional Resources
Harvard Health – Your brain on food
Psychology Today – What is the best diet for your mood?
American Psychological Association – That gut feeling
American Psychological Association – The link between food and mental health