We have all been hearing and living by the phrase “you are what you eat”. But hey, recent research has suggested an extension to this belief that says that “you feel what you eat”! The findings show that the food we consume does more than define who we are. It has the power to regulate mood both in a positive and negative manner. Certain foods have a short-term effect on our brains while others cause a long-term effect.
The brain’s neurotransmitters play a crucial role in causing these different effects. Just the thought of eating your favourite food makes your mouth water. This too is a response by the brain but it does not necessarily affect your brain. On the other hand, consuming sugary foods tends to cause a sugar high that temporarily gives a mood and energy boost but later leaves you feeling low, anxious, and even depressed (withdrawal syndrome or hypoglycemia). The sugar high and low effect is a great example to understand the food-mood connection. Let us understand the chemical processes that take place in the brain by the food you consume to affect your mental health.
What are neurotransmitters?
Neurotransmitters are the chemicals in the brain that communicate information to the body and brain by sending signals to the nerve cells. It is through the neurotransmitters that the brain tells the heart to beat, the stomach to digest, and the lungs to breathe, by also regulating sleep, concentration, and mood.
Serotonin is called the “happiness” or “feel good” chemical. Consuming carbohydrates releases serotonin in the brain, giving a mood and energy boost. However, it is important to understand that simple carbohydrates like candy, sugar, or cookies offer short-term effects like “sugar high” or “sugar rush”, resulting in a crushing low and withdrawal syndrome. Consuming complex carbohydrates like beans, vegetables, and whole grains offer longer-lasting effects.
Consuming proteins like dairy, legumes, poultry, and meat releases the neurotransmitter called dopamine in the brain which is responsible for enhancing concentration and alertness as well as increasing energy levels that remain sustained for longer periods of time.
Consumption of eggs, fish, soybean, and wheat germ helps release acetylcholine in the brain which is found to affect the mood, memory, and learning in an individual.
Based on the food-mood connection, there are certain foods that must be avoided to prevent frequent mood shifts and negative moods.
- Avoid consuming refined carbs like white bread, pastries, pasta, etc. as they are high on glycemic levels causing destabilized moods.
- Avoid processed meats as they are full of sugar, preservatives, and salts causing negative moods and migraines.
- Avoid certain dairy products as they take longer to digest, and are linked to aggression, depression, and anger.
Making small dietary and lifestyle changes can help make huge changes in overall mental health and wellbeing. The Loop & Knot Smoked Garlic and Green Bean Gourmet Soup as well as the Loop & Knot Complete Health Shake are high in fibers, essential vitamins and minerals, and natural plant proteins, with no added sugar to offer mood-boosting and energy-boosting benefits.
Make the healthier switch today!