Apr 30 , 2021
The Food-Mood Connection
So how does our diet affect our mood? Consuming a balanced diet can have a significant impact on the body as well as the mind. What we eat can have an effect on our moods because of the connection between serotonin and tryptophan.
Along with regular physical exercise, getting enough tryptophan and carbohydrates can impact how we feel. Tryptophan is an amino acid which is found in most protein-based sources, such as turkey, eggs, duck, fish, nuts, beef, and chicken. It is the primary precursor to synthesizing serotonin – a mood regulating neurotransmitter.
Once the serotonin is synthesized, carbohydrates help to carry it across the blood brain barrier, which then elevates mood. It is important to note that carbohydrates are essential for the tryptophan to take effect. Although simple carbohydrates, such as processed and refined sugars, have been shown to boost our serotonin levels the fastest, complex carbohydrates such as vegetables, whole grains, legumes, are the healthier option. This is because simple carbohydrates can cause sugar spikes and high blood sugar, leading to inflammation, energy crashes, and other ailments whereas complex carbohydrates are slower acting and help regulate blood sugar levels.
Additionally, since our brain cells are predominantly made up of fat, we need healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, to optimally function. However, trans fats and hydrogenated oils can lead to inflammation and the many other things that we often associate with eating fat.
So, the next time you are feeling down and craving something, try to be mindful of what you’re eating. Your body might just be telling you what you need!