Sometimes, we just feel a little down in the dumps. Whether we’ve had a bad work meeting or the kids have been acting out for the last week. But what happens when that funk just won’t go away.
Can food help to boost your mood? In many cases, yes it can!
You may have already heard that your gut is actually your second brain, and this can be said for many reasons. What you eat, and how you digest it, can impact the nutrients you get and your energy levels.
Plus, did you know that most of the serotonin (that feel good neurotransmitter), is actually produced in your gastrointestinal tract? (1) That means, if you don’t have the proper gut bacteria, you may be messing with your serotonin levels.
Another thing that can mess with your mood? Inflammation. Chronic inflammation can be caused by a number of factors including:
- Food Intolerances
- Lack of sleep
- Pain or injury
So what foods should you incorporate into your diet to help boost your mood?
Omega 3 fatty acids
This includes fatty fish, like wild-caught salmon and sardines. Omega-3s found in animal-based sources and supplements have been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression (2)
As gut health has been linked to serotonin levels in the body, it is important that we have the proper bacteria in our digestive tract. This will ensure we do not compromise our gut microbes and cause an overgrowth of the “bad bacteria”.
Fermented foods tend to have higher levels of probiotics. These probiotics also stay in our GI system, as they help our good bacteria to re-populate and grow. Try fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir. Just be sure to opt for the unflavoured and sugar-free versions.
Not a fan of those options? A high-quality probiotic supplement can help wonders, especially if you have had to go on a round of antibiotics.
Any type of recovery requires us to consume high-quality protein. We may have just run a half-marathon, cut our finger while meal-prepping, or are fighting off this year’s superbug. To keep our immune system in top shape, we need to consume good sources of clean protein, including:
- Grass-fed, pasture-raised, antibiotic-free meats (yes, this actually matters!)
- Collagen supplements like powders and bone broth
- Pasture-run eggs
- Non-GMO soy products like tempeh or tofu
With our immune system in-check, we have better energy, leading to better overall moods.
All hail this anti-inflammatory booster. This spice has traditionally been used not just to make food taste great, but the curcumin has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body. When inflammation is reduced, we can properly use the nutrients we consume for energy, and our overall brain health.
Like many fruits, cherries are very high in antioxidants.These fruits are also lower on the glycemic index than others, meaning that they can be helpful for those living with diabetes.
Cherries are also high in melatonin, especially tart cherries. Melatonin is a hormone that can actually help promote a more restful sleep.
While there are many good-for-you foods to consume to help balance our moods, there are definitely a few food groups you should avoid. This includes:
Refined Sugar: This can cause inflammation and mess with our gut microbes.
Processed foods: similar to sugar, this can mess with our gut microbes. Not only can this impact our mental health, but it can also cause digestive upset and weight gain.
So next time you go reaching for a chocolate bar, don’t just think about your waistline, think about how this might change your mood for the rest of the day.