Functional Foods for Mood
Our gut health has a lot of influence on our mood. Not just because we feel terrible when we eat processed foods or too much sugar, but also because 90 to 95% of our body’s serotonin is made in the gut. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is essential for our mood. There is also a strong connection between our microbiome and our brain function and mood. Some microbes can make compounds like our neurotransmitters to communicate directly with our brain. The brain-gut connection is fascinating.
Too much sugar, processed foods, industrial fats, and oils (leading to an imbalance of Omega-3s to Omega-6 fatty acids) can have detrimental effects on our mood. Often changing our diet can improve our mood. Focusing on whole natural foods like fruits and vegetables that are full of phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals, good fats (olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil) for a balance of Omega-3 to Omega-6, and healthy protein choices like grass-fed beef, fish, turkey, chicken, bison, nuts, beans, and tofu can start to improve your mood. Make sure you are providing your microbiome with good sources of fiber and prebiotic foods (like green bananas, garlic, onions, legumes, etc.).
Some micronutrients that support mood include Omega-3 fatty acids, folate, vitamin D, Magnesium, Probiotics, Vitamin B6, and Polyphenols.
Folate can be found in avocado, beans, asparagus, walnuts, spinach, kale, hazelnuts, and broccoli.
Vitamin D is usually made from exposure to sunlight and only found in low levels in foods like sardines, salmon, tuna, shrimp, butter, eggs, and mushrooms.
Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring) are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. They can also be found in nuts and seeds (like chia, flax, or hemp seeds as well as walnuts).
Magnesium is found in kelp, almonds, cashews, buckwheat, Brazil nuts, dulse, and hazelnuts.
Probiotics (help the brain-gut connection) are in fermented foods, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, miso, pickles, kimchi, tempeh, and dark chocolate.
Vitamin B6 can be found in mushrooms, perch, pecans, eggs, lobster, oatmeal, cashews, salmon, broccoli, hazelnuts, and kale.
Polyphenols are often found in berries (especially blueberries), lemons, dark chocolate, green tea, garlic, and broccoli.
Sharing a healthy meal with friends or family can also improve your mood. Being around people who lift you up and make you laugh is essential for your overall well-being and provide you a sense of belonging. Don’t forget to move and release those endorphins! Even a 10-minute walk can sometimes lift your mood! Exercise has amazing benefits for mood and overall health!
So, choose healthy foods that feed your gut microbiome and leave processed, sugar-laden, fast-foods behind. Set your body up for success and you may see your mood improve!