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Food and mood!

The food(s) we eat play a large role in our moods, energy and emotions, and a diet without adequate nutrients can contribute to low mood and low energy.Did you know our brain's neurotransmitters regulate our mood and behaviour and are controlled by our food intake?

The neurotransmitters that influence our mood are dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. When the brain makes serotonin, we typically feel happier and more relaxed. When serotonin and norepinephrine are produced, we think and act more quickly and clearly.

It is so important to be consistent with our nutritional intake, particularly during periods of stress. (Which are so common nowadays with having our phones, emails etc on us at all times, as well as family pressures with children needing to attend sports after school and during the weekend!)

So even though we tend to crave sugary foods for a quick mood ‘fix’, the long term and lasting’ fix’ only occurs when we eat a good combination of lean proteins and lots of vegetables to stabilize our blood sugar and neurotransmitters.

Keep eating these foods on a regular basis to improve your mood and energy: (unless you are aware of an intolerance to some of them of course)

  1. Tryptophan, found in turkey and cows milk, boosts serotonin levels to balance out mood and contribute to a more positive outlook.

  2. High protein foods, such as fish, chicken, turkey and eggs help enhance dopamine and norepinephrine production, which then helps concentration.

  3. Bananas boost serotonin and dopamine production.

  4. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains (brown rice, oatmeal), vegetables and legumes stimulate the production of serotonin. Sugary simple carbs do not provide the same benefit.

  5. The healthy fat in avocados help raise dopamine levels and increase endorphins (the feel good hormones).

  6. Almonds increase dopamine levels as well as being high in fibre and good fat for brain health.

  7. Dark chocolate boosts serotonin levels without resulting in a sugar crash as in other forms of chocolate. Choose dark chocolate with more than 85% cocoa.

  8. Green tea contains the amino acid l-theanine which improves mood while reducing stress and anxiety – and may increase mental alertness, focus and memory.

  9. Cold water fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna help support healthy brain function and protect against mood swings and depression.

  10. Probiotics, found in good quality yoghurt can help improve mood as we have serotonin receptors in our gut and an imbalance of the good/bad bacteria can disrupt the production/ reception of serotonin.

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