Food affects us in a variety of ways. It’s no secret that food can affect our mood. Certain foods make you more alert, and others can relax you more. The relationship between food and mood is fascinating, but how are they connected? When we eat, chemicals — neurotransmitters — flood our brains and bodies, causing us to feel good or bad. Read on to discover exactly how food affects your mood and how to incorporate more foods that increase happiness and reduce stress and other negative feelings.

How Food Affects Your Mood

Studies show that nutrition can affect your mood. In fact, a healthy diet might be the most critical factor in improving your mental health. Here’s how food affects your mood:

1. By Influencing Serotonin Levels. Serotonin can have a relaxing effect on the body, and it helps combat depression. There are several nutrients, like tryptophan, which help the body produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. Tryptophan is an amino acid found in protein-rich foods like eggs, poultry, and fish. It is also found in beans and nuts.

2. By Influencing Blood Sugar Levels. Foods high in simple carbs will cause blood sugar levels to spike and then drop quickly, leaving you feeling tired and lethargic. For example, fats are converted into fatty acids like linoleic acid, lowering tryptophan levels leading to less serotonin production.

3. By Affecting The Gut. About 90% of serotonin receptors are in the gut. Various studies have found that diet can affect the gut-brain axis and cause mood swings and mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety. 

Foods That Cause Mood Swings

Foods with tyramine, phenylethylamine, and serotonin can cause mood swings. The first two are aged cheeses, chocolate, red wine, soy sauce, and yeast extracts. The third is found in citrus fruits, avocados, bananas, pineapples, and tomatoes. These foods have been linked to increased levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, which can cause mood swings. 

Foods to avoid that negatively impact your mood and mental health include:

  • Refined sugar
  • Foods high in trans fats
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Salt 
  • Highly processed foods
  • Refined grain products
  • Foods that you have an intolerance to 

To help avoid the foods that cause mood swings:

  1. Make sure you do not eat too much of any particular food in a day.
  2. Stick to a balanced diet with a good mix of vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates.
  3. Drink lots of water during the day to keep your body hydrated, helping to avoid headaches and keeping your body on its normal cycles, as dehydration can also lead to mood swings.

Foods That Can Improve Your Mood

Foods rich in vitamins and minerals can help a person feel more relaxed and positive. B complex vitamins are believed to improve mood by increasing serotonin and dopamine levels in the body. Vitamin A has also been linked with improved mood states due to its role in regulating serotonin levels in the brain. Even foods high in antioxidants such as berries, carrots, tomatoes, and citrus fruits are also protected against depression.

Some foods are scientifically proven to help improve your mood. These foods include:

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Healthy fats
  • Berries
  • Nuts and legumes
  • Fermented foods 
  • Fatty fish
  • Dark chocolate
  • Bananas
  • Oats
  • Coffee 
  • Beans and lentils 

How Does Not Eating Affect Your Mood

A healthy diet can have a profound effect on your mood. Even if you’re eating well, there are ways that food can affect your mood. There are a few main connections between food and mood. The first is that you’re either eating too much or not enough to keep your brain running optimally. In fact, low blood sugar can cause symptoms that look like depression, such as fatigue and trouble concentrating.

Not eating enough food can also affect your moods because you will start feeling hungry, which can cause you to crave the food you need the most for your body to function properly. A poor diet can also cause the neurotransmitters in the brain to stop functioning properly so that you don’t feel as happy as before.

Not getting enough protein means that your body isn’t absorbing the nutrients it needs from other foods. Without getting all of the necessary vitamins and minerals, your body will not function properly.

A balanced diet is the best way to ensure that you get all of the nutrients you need to maintain good health. There are many ways that food affects your mood. When it comes to changing your mood, there are plenty of ways to do so. The food you eat is one of them. And though eating well can’t guarantee that your day will be spectacular, it’s a healthy and natural way to regulate your mood.