Good Mood Food

The gut has an important role in mental health. Microbes in the gut produce neurotransmittors such as serotonin and dopamine which regulate mood and emotions.

Published on July 23, 2021

According to Anahad O’ Connor for the Irish Times the idea of good mood food is brought about by nutritional psychiatry, which looks at the relationship between diet and mental wellness and indicates that certain foods can improve your mood and mental health.

Firstly, the gut has an important role in mental health. Microbes in the gut produce neurotransmittors such as serotonin and dopamine which regulate mood and emotions.

One study in 2016 it was found that eating fruits and vegetables led members rating themselves higher on questionnaires about happiness and life satisfaction. However large observational studies only showed correlation not causation. This raises the question does bad mood encourage people to choose unhealthy foods or does unhealthy food cause worse moods and do happy people choose healthier foods or do healthier foods cause better moods.

In 2017 a group of clinically depressed people were split into two groups. Both were provided social support but while one group ate as normal the other had a strict Mediterranean style diet. After twelve weeks both groups improved in depression scores but far more in the group with the diet.
As suggested by Katey Davidson for Healthline there are some foods that have been proven to improve overall brain health and some mood disorders.

Fatty fish contain omega 3 fatty acids that contribute to brain development and functioning and has been linked to lower levels of depression. Dark chocolate is rich in mood boosting compounds such as sugar, caffeine, theobromine and N-acylethanolamine. It has many flavonoids which supports the mood regulation by increasing blood flow to the brain, reducing inflammation and boosting brain health. In addition, its pleasurable taste, texture and smell promotes mood. As mentioned above gut health is important for good mood and fermented foods are ideal for this as they create probiotics which are microbes that support healthy bacteria in the gut. Fruits such as bananas and berries contain fibre for the slow release of sugar resulting in a more stable mood, vitamin B6 which creates feel good neurotransmitters and antioxidants that may help inflammation linked with mood disorders. Oats contain fibre for stable blood sugar levels and resulting stable mood. Nuts, seeds and beans contain many proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals responsible for a healthy brain and fibre for a stable mood and healthy gut. Coffee promotes alertness and mood boosting neurotransmitters.

Overall good mood foods can be identified by their ability to improve brain health and happiness. These foods support a healthy gut for example, fermented foods. They are foods high in omega 3 fatty acids for brain development e.g. salmon. They include fruits and vegetables due to their fibre and antioxidants, dark chocolate for its mood boosting compounds, oats, nuts, seeds and beans and even coffee. To obtain the good mood benefits of the foods it is recommended to consume them regularly according to the RDA provided by the World Health organisation e.g. fatty fish 2 to 3 times a week.

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