The food you eat can influence your mood!

  • By: Tiana Rodrigues / Comments : 0

Have you ever wondered why your mom gets annoyed over the smallest thing when she is fasting or why your dad growls like a lion when his meals are not on time or why you could not solve a simple puzzle when you were hungry? Spot the difference in your mum, dad and yourself once all have had a stomach full to eat! You will know the answer!

The food you eat can influence your mood (for example eating a sweet may increase your energy levels) and similarly, your mood can influence your food choices (for instance caffeine, which is a constituent of tea, coffee, chocolate etc. is a choice food when you are tired). As science and technology advances, food is not only looked at for nutrition but also for its therapeutic value.

The relationship between mood and food varies depending on:

  • Time of the day
  • Type of food eaten
  • Composition of the food
  • Amount of food consumed
  • Age of the individual
  • Dietary history of the person

Food can control your mood and behavior in various ways:

  • The composition of the meal affects the blood glucose levels. Glucose is a major fuel source for the brain and thus, increases energy levels. That is the reason why most people reach for a chocolate when low.
  • The protein quantity and quality can also control your mood. Research indicates that it is best to consume a high protein, low carbohydrate meal before a complex task that requires concentration.
  • Amino acids are the raw materials from which neurotransmitters are synthesized. Tryptophan is the precursor for serotonin which regulates mood, appetite and sleep. It also plays a role in cognition and memory. Sources of tryptophan are chicken, soyabeans, tuna, salmon, shrimp etc. Tyrosine is necessary for the production of thyroid hormones, melanin synthesis (which is a pigment in the skin, eyes and hair) and for cognitive functions like attention and alertness. It is readily available from milk and milk products, bananas, soya products etc.
  • Fat is an essential component of brain membranes. Eliminating fat from the diet can have adverse effects on one’s behavior and mood. Thus, diets should never be very low in fats.
  • Caffeine can serve as an anti-depressant. However, consumption of more than a cup of coffee per day can be counterproductive.
  • Folic acid is easily available in most of the green leafy vegetables and has been associated with depression. Low levels of folic acid in the brain causes serotonin levels to decrease.
  • Choline plays a role in the memory and concentration aspect. Choline is a precursor of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Choline is present mainly in eggs and liver. Poor memory and Alzheimer’s disease are a result of low choline levels.
  • Low selenium levels have been linked to anxiousness, irritability, hostility and depression. The mode of action for selenium is unknown. The main sources of selenium are nuts, shellfish, liver, sunflower seeds, bran of wheat, rice and oats etc.

The foods that can change your mood for the better include:

  • Whole grain products, oats etc.
  • Dark green leafy vegetables and legumes which provide folate.
  • Milk and milk products, pulses, meat, poultry etc. for protein.
  • Salmon, tuna, mackerel, walnuts, flaxseeds as sources of omega-3.
  • Vitamin D has been observed to influence mood. Sunlight is a variable source of Vitamin D whereas dietary sources are also limited to eggs and fish. So do not forget to take a supplement if you are deficient.
  • Micronutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc contained in dairy products, vegetables, meat etc. are necessary for normal functioning and cognition, especially in children. A deficiency of these nutrients that has been associated with neurobehavioral disorders in children.

The foods that may deteriorate one’s mood include:

  • Sugar may cause a rush of glucose affecting mood. Avoid it before bed at least for children.
  • Regularly consuming excessive coffee (more than 3 cups) can lead to irritability and mood swings as it affects the adrenaline center of the brain.
  • Processed foods that include additives, artificial colors etc. may also influence mood especially in people who are sensitive to these components.

Balancing one’s diet along with identifying what works best for your mood is the key to handle your behavior. At the end of the day, you are what you eat. You could also try BodyFirst ® Programs to make sure you consume the right foods on a day-to- day basis.

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