By Adele G.
BAppSc (Naturopathic Studies)
PGradDip ( Naturopathy)
We all know the saying “you are what you eat”, however can it be true to say that what we eat influences how we feel!
It’s widely known that your mood can trigger food cravings, cause you to overeat or supress your appetite completely.
The foods that you eat can actually change the chemical composition of your brain. This influences the way you are feeling, your clarity of mind and how alert you are.
Fluctuations in blood sugar levels are associated with changes in mood and energy, and are affected by what we eat. Brain chemicals such as such as serotonin, dopamine and acetylcholine influence the way we think, feel and behave. What we eat can have a large influence on them.
So what particular foods can influence your mood?
We may all crave a chocolate bar at some time or another however, that chocolate bar and all its refined sugars causes our blood glucose levels to fall, resulting in sugar withdrawal effects that disrupts our mood, depletes our energy, and can contribute to sleep deprivation.
Consuming refined or processed carbohydrates such as white bread, white pasta and processed breakfast cereal, is going to have the same impact on your blood sugar levels as what a chocolate bar would. After the initial insulin boost, you will end up feeling fatigued, irritated, and down.
Artificial sweeteners may not be as good of a sugar alternative as we would like to think. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that can block the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin and causes mood inclines and declines, headaches, and sleeplessness.
Research has found a link between trans-fatty acid intake and biological changes that can contribute to depression. Unhealthy fats like those found in fast food and pastries can contribute to inflammatory responses in your body that can interfere with mood-boosting neurotransmitters.
A poor diet can contribute to malnutrition which then leads to low levels of vitamins, minerals and Essential Fatty Acids. This can affect your mental health. Symptoms associated with particular nutritional deficiencies can also contribute to your mood.
So what should you be eating?
Aim to eat balanced meals and have at least five different types of vegetables a day, spread evenly throughout the day. Include a balance of lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats and fruits and vegetables. These are great mood elevators with a great range of overall health benefits for your body.