How food affects your mood

Many of us will have already heard the saying: You are what you eat. But what does this actually mean? Our food choices change our physical body over time, but they also impact our day-to-day brain activity. Can we go as far as saying they impact our mood? The short answer is YES! Many factors dictate our choice of food, including our environment, our current state of mind and even the people we are with. The relationship between food and mood is complex: let’s break it down.

Serotonin: “the happy hormone”

Our mood is controlled by chemicals and neurotransmitters in our brain. A neurotransmitter is a chemical message sent from one nerve cell to the next.  The main hormones that benefit our mood are dopamine, serotonin, endorphin and oxytocin, although not necessarily all at once or in that order. Serotonin is often considered our ‘happy hormone’, because it regulates anxiety, happiness and mood, contributing to our overall well-being. Compared to other neurotransmitters, it is the most sensitive to diet and appetite, as over 90% of it is produced in the gut! What we put into our bodies, determines the amount of serotonin produced. Maintaining good gut health, therefore, is essential for overall well-being. The gut-brain axis means they are always communicating: a happy gut is a happy mind.

good gut health

Gut bacteria and brain health

The connection between the gut and brain health, however, is often overlooked. Studies have shown links between the gut and the immune system, inflammatory diseases, skin conditions and most importantly, mood and mental health. A main driver here is our gut microbiome.  Our gut microbiome is the various bacteria species which live in our digestive tract. There are more bacteria species in our gut than there are stars in the milky way! The bacteria work by metabolizing nutrients, protecting us from infections and producing vitamins and hormones. Certain bacteria produce serotonin in our gut and reduce the levels of stress hormones. For example, when you’re nervous, you feel butterflies in your stomach. Our emotions powerfully impact our gut health, and our gut health, in turn, can impact our mental health! This is why looking after our gut plays a major role in our overall mood and well-being.

So now that we know how important gut health is for our mood, you might be wondering how we can take care of our gut?

gut-loving nutrients

Prebiotics, probiotics & Omega-3

Prebiotics and probiotics are two essential players in gut health. Both work synergically to keep our gut happy and healthy. What’s the difference between them? Given their similar names, it is easy for us to mix them up. Pre biotics are found in fibrous foods that feed the good bacteria in the gut. Pro biotics are beneficial live bacteria found in supplements and naturally in our gut. Essentially, prebiotics act as food for the probiotics. Both are gut-loving nutrients.

A nutrient that is more directly linked to the brain is Omega-3. In fact, it is considered our brain’s favourite nutrient. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and it  prevents deterioration of the brain. Food sources of Omega-3 are oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, as well as chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, avocado and algae. When possible, we should try to include these foods in our diet to keep our brains happy & healthy.  A vegan source of Omega-3 is algae oil, but as with any supplement, a healthcare practitioner should recommend it first.

 Foods for a mood-boosting diet 

Prebiotic foods consist of high fibre fruit and vegetables such as  bananas, artichokes, asparagus, oats and apples. This is great news for our gut and our wallets as they are usually quite accessible in our local store and can be easily incorporated into our daily diet. Fibre rich foods such as whole grains, legumes and beans promote the growth of bacteria in our gut. Not only will these foods enhance our gut health, they will also fill us with nutrients, energy and help with digestion.

Adding probiotic foods to our diet will expose our gut to different types of bacteria which will keep our microbiome flourishing. Probiotics can be found in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi and yoghurt. A daily probiotic supplement can be used, but we suggest consulting your healthcare practitioner first.

To meet our Omega-3 needs, it would be great to try to include fish at least twice a week. If fish is not your thing, don’t worry, other omega-3 sources include chia, flax seeds, walnuts and sea-vegetables.

Finally, it would be best if we all tried to avoid packaged and processed foods. As a rule of thumb, the longer the list of ingredients, the more processed the food is. If we try to eat 70%-80% wholefoods, our bodies and minds will thank us for it.

Reality check.

We now know that both our physical and mental health are determined by what we put into our body. Maintaining a healthy diet will have a positive effect on us overall. This is where balance is so important: if we try to eat healthy 80% of the time, we can enjoy the less nutritious foods on occasion. 80% wholefoods and 20% soul foods! By implementing these small but simple habits into our lifestyle, we will enjoy the impact on our happiness and well-being.

KeywordsHealth, nutrition, mood boosting, gut health, physical health, mental health, omega-3, prebiotics, probiotics, soul foods, happy hormones.

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How food affects your mood

Many of us will have already heard the saying: You are what you eat. But what does this actually mean? Our food choices change our physical body over time, but they also impact our day-to-day brain activity. Can we go as far as saying they impact our mood? The short answer is YES! Many factors dictate our choice of food, including our environment, our current state of mind and even the people we are with. The relationship between food and mood is complex: let’s break it down.

Serotonin: “the happy hormone”

Our mood is controlled by chemicals and neurotransmitters in our brain. A neurotransmitter is a chemical message sent from one nerve cell to the next.  The main hormones that benefit our mood are dopamine, serotonin, endorphin and oxytocin, although not necessarily all at once or in that order. Serotonin is often considered our ‘happy hormone’, because it regulates anxiety, happiness and mood, contributing to our overall well-being. Compared to other neurotransmitters, it is the most sensitive to diet and appetite, as over 90% of it is produced in the gut! What we put into our bodies, determines the amount of serotonin produced. Maintaining good gut health, therefore, is essential for overall well-being. The gut-brain axis means they are always communicating: a happy gut is a happy mind.

good gut health

Gut bacteria and brain health

The connection between the gut and brain health, however, is often overlooked. Studies have shown links between the gut and the immune system, inflammatory diseases, skin conditions and most importantly, mood and mental health. A main driver here is our gut microbiome.  Our gut microbiome is the various bacteria species which live in our digestive tract. There are more bacteria species in our gut than there are stars in the milky way! The bacteria work by metabolizing nutrients, protecting us from infections and producing vitamins and hormones. Certain bacteria produce serotonin in our gut and reduce the levels of stress hormones. For example, when you’re nervous, you feel butterflies in your stomach. Our emotions powerfully impact our gut health, and our gut health, in turn, can impact our mental health! This is why looking after our gut plays a major role in our overall mood and well-being.

So now that we know how important gut health is for our mood, you might be wondering how we can take care of our gut?

gut-loving nutrients

Prebiotics, probiotics & Omega-3

Prebiotics and probiotics are two essential players in gut health. Both work synergically to keep our gut happy and healthy. What’s the difference between them? Given their similar names, it is easy for us to mix them up. Pre biotics are found in fibrous foods that feed the good bacteria in the gut. Pro biotics are beneficial live bacteria found in supplements and naturally in our gut. Essentially, prebiotics act as food for the probiotics. Both are gut-loving nutrients.

A nutrient that is more directly linked to the brain is Omega-3. In fact, it is considered our brain’s favourite nutrient. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects and it  prevents deterioration of the brain. Food sources of Omega-3 are oily fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, as well as chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts, avocado and algae. When possible, we should try to include these foods in our diet to keep our brains happy & healthy.  A vegan source of Omega-3 is algae oil, but as with any supplement, a healthcare practitioner should recommend it first.

 Foods for a mood-boosting diet 

Prebiotic foods consist of high fibre fruit and vegetables such as  bananas, artichokes, asparagus, oats and apples. This is great news for our gut and our wallets as they are usually quite accessible in our local store and can be easily incorporated into our daily diet. Fibre rich foods such as whole grains, legumes and beans promote the growth of bacteria in our gut. Not only will these foods enhance our gut health, they will also fill us with nutrients, energy and help with digestion.

Adding probiotic foods to our diet will expose our gut to different types of bacteria which will keep our microbiome flourishing. Probiotics can be found in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi and yoghurt. A daily probiotic supplement can be used, but we suggest consulting your healthcare practitioner first.

To meet our Omega-3 needs, it would be great to try to include fish at least twice a week. If fish is not your thing, don’t worry, other omega-3 sources include chia, flax seeds, walnuts and sea-vegetables.

Finally, it would be best if we all tried to avoid packaged and processed foods. As a rule of thumb, the longer the list of ingredients, the more processed the food is. If we try to eat 70%-80% wholefoods, our bodies and minds will thank us for it.

Reality check.

We now know that both our physical and mental health are determined by what we put into our body. Maintaining a healthy diet will have a positive effect on us overall. This is where balance is so important: if we try to eat healthy 80% of the time, we can enjoy the less nutritious foods on occasion. 80% wholefoods and 20% soul foods! By implementing these small but simple habits into our lifestyle, we will enjoy the impact on our happiness and well-being.

KeywordsHealth, nutrition, mood boosting, gut health, physical health, mental health, omega-3, prebiotics, probiotics, soul foods, happy hormones.

More from wellyou

How food affects your mood

Many of us will have already heard the saying: You are what you eat. But what does this actually mean?

wellyou events: a review from Arcane Lost

Siddharth Chaudhary, from Arcane Lost, joined our event ‘Kickstarting 2021: Reach Your Goals and Live Intentionally’. We asked Siddharth's honest opinion of the event. Taking a sneak-peak at the review he shared with his readers

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Wanna chat? Contact us at
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