Tuesday, 24 March 2020 / Topics:
We know that often our mood determines what we eat. For example, if you’re tired you’re more likely to reach for a coffee over water or a high sugar snack instead of avocado on crackers. But, does the food we eat, influence our mood? A growing body of research suggests that it may, and we aren’t just talking about an energy rush from drinking too much red cordial!
Studies that have highlighted a positive link between diet and mood have identified relationships between certain dietary intake patterns and mood.(1) Diets believed to have the greatest impact on mental health are those often referred to as “traditional diets” such as the Mediterranean diet, Japanese diet and the Norwegian diet. Research has not yet been able to determine specific nutrients or foods that directly impact mood, mainly because there are so many factors to consider! However, when we look at what these diets have in common, these diets are rich in:
When examining the impact specific nutrients can have on mood, research often focuses on the impact on the hippocampus which is the part of the brain that regulates emotion and memories and serotonin levels, commonly referred to as the “happy hormone”.
The struggle with this is that humans don’t eat nutrients in isolation, we eat whole foods, which can make it hard to identifying key nutrients that directly impact the hippocampus and serotonin levels. To make it even more difficult we also eat those whole foods with other foods, in an endless range of combinations which can help or hinder nutrient absorption during digestion (think about how many ingredients go into your Bolognese sauce!).
So, what does this mean?
Considering evidence highlights a direct link between certain micronutrients and mood is currently limited, your best bet is to eat a nutrient dense “traditional diet” that is comprised of:
Also, keep in mind that large amounts of concentrated doses of nutrient supplements can have adverse effects, so try to “eat a rainbow” every day and get all your nutrients from your diet.