How To Use Food To Improve Your Mood

How To Use Food To Improve Your Mood

We’ve all had those days when we just can’t get moving. Staying in bed seems like a good idea even though it’s a beautiful morning full of promise. We’re tired and irritable and don’t know why.


We’ve tried getting more sleep, drinking our morning coffee, and getting food into our system, but nothing is boosting our mood.


Not everything that affects our mood is external, our gut health can affect it too. If you are irritable, tired and hungry, try fueling your body with nutrient-dense food. The right food can help create clarity in your life.

The Science

In order for humans to function on a day-to-day basis, our brains and bodies need quality fuel. Our fuel comes in the form of food and has a direct impact on our mood. To navigate our mood, neurotransmitters are our road map to help guide us through mood regulation.

A neurotransmitter is like a radio station. The frequencies have to match up to be picked up by one specific radio station. They affect our thoughts, feelings and mood. When working properly, neurotransmitters will have either an excitatory or an inhibitory effect.

Inhibitory neurotransmitters activates the receptor site and help your body regulate itself and relax. Excitatory neurotransmitters help the body ramp up your energy. It’s important to have plenty of inhibitory neurotransmitters before amping up the excitatory neurotransmitters. They work together to keep each other in check. For example, when you have a spike in your energy (excitatory), your body will regulate to the best of its ability (inhibitory) to avoid a sugar crash.

In order for your body to regulate your mood, your body needs a few important chemicals to work together.

  • Serotonin (inhibitory) can have a profound effect on emotion, mood and anxiety. It helps regulate sleep, wakefulness, eating, and perception.
  • Glycine, Taurine, GABA (inhibitory) slows down the neurons’ activities and helps prevent your body from getting overly excited.
  • Norepinephrine, Dopamine (excitatory) regulates mood and physical and mental arousal. If there is a spike to the secretion of norepinephrine, your heart rate and blood pressure may increase.

Neurotransmitters are chemicals that allow your nerves to communicate and regulate your body's various functions. With any increase or decrease of these chemicals, there could be an alteration to your nervous system.

Here are the foods that can help you get the proper nutrition to build these neurotransmitters and regulate your mood.

Prebiotics and Probiotics

A healthy gut is a happy person. The gut is a complex system and is mainly made up of serotonin, which we previously learned is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep, appetite and mood. Consuming prebiotics in your diet will also help increase good bacteria that helps promote secretion of serotonin. When you have more probiotics in your diet, your gut will thank you. Foods that are high in probiotics and will promote a happy gut include:

  • Yogurt
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha
  • Fermented Veggies
  • Miso Soup

In order to create a happy gut, it’s important to increase your intake of prebiotics and probiotics on a day-to-day basis. Here are some foods that contain prebiotics and probiotics:

Protein

Protein not only helps build muscle, it also gets you into a good mood because it is comprised of amino acids. Amino acids build the neurotransmitters that are responsible for regulating thoughts and feelings. Without amino acids, we can fall victim to obsessive thinking, fatigue, depression, and anxiety. Now that’s not the kind of attitude we want on a powder day!

Foods that are high in amino acids include:

  • Fish
  • Lean beef
  • Chicken breast
  • Eggs

These help feed your brain and regulate your thoughts and feelings.

Complex Carbohydrates

Sugar crashes are no fun. You’re up and then you’re down, which doesn’t help if you have a long day ahead of you (and we usually do). Carbohydrates help us prevent these nasty sugar crashes. They regulate blood sugar and provide sustained energy so you remain stocked for the rest of your day.

That’s not to say they don’t contain sugar, they have an abundance of good nutrients too. They provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber that are important for your health. The majority of carbohydrates come from complex carbohydrates and natural occuring sugars.

Complex carbohydrates can be found in foods such as:

  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Pasta
  • Whole Grains
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables.

Omega-3s

Omega-3s, also known as the body’s natural anti-depressants, are essential fats. Your body can’t make them from scratch, meaning they must get them from food. Foods that are high in Omega-3s include:

  • Fish
  • Vegetable Oils
  • Nuts (especially walnuts)
  • Flax Seeds
  • Flaxseed Oil
  • Leafy Vegetables.

There is so much to love about Omega-3’s.  They help your cell membranes function and create regulating hormones, which help thin your blood and decrease risk of inflammation throughout your body. Omega-3’s have also been known to help prevent heart disease, stroke, and many other diseases. They are your body’s protector.


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