How does food have an impact on your mood?

sugar bad mood

Are you well underway using your Strive app so you can now Track Activity and Measurements from your Apple Watch and Smart Scale? While you are striving to be the best version of yourself you need all the best tools to succeed.

We have said it many times before but you are what you eat.

It’s important to remember that everything you put into your mouth has an effect on your body, in some way. Each food has a different purpose which is why your body needs a varied and balanced diet. 

Not only does food affect your body it also affects your brain. Your brain is a sensitive organ and when it comes to diet and nutrition, should not be ignored.  

Your brain is pretty amazing, it comprises 60% of fat and is one of the fattest organs in the human body. Also, your brain gets 20% of the total blood and oxygen that is produced in our body. It’s a pretty important organ, to say the least so it’s time you put some thought into the fuel you are providing it. 

Foods have an impact on your mood. If you are eating rubbish, boy will you feel rubbish. In this post we are going to delve into the reasons why food affects mood and why you should pay close attention to what you are eating. 

Brain foods – nourish your brain like you would your body

First things first. Let’s start by taking a brief look at the types of food which are good for your brain.

Fatty fish – Your brain uses omega-3s to build brain and nerve cells, and these fats are essential for learning and memory.

Green leafy veg – Leafy greens contain iron and vitamin K, as well as a number of compounds with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which may help protect your brain against damage.

Nuts & seeds – Nuts can improve cognition and even help prevent neurodegenerative diseases.

Carbohydrates – Whole foods not processed. Carbs are your brain’s primary source of fuel. 

Coffee – Caffeine in coffee keeps your brain alert by blocking adenosine, a chemical messenger that makes you sleepy.

Dark chocolate – Dark chocolate contains brain-boosting compounds, including flavonoids, caffeine and antioxidants.

Now we know the types of food your brain requires to function. Are you getting enough of all these or are you surviving on a diet of processed, nutritionally void foods? If you are you could well be suffering from low mood and lack of motivation. 

Let’s delve a little deeper…

Food & mood disorders

The biggest topic to cover when talking about how food affects mood is how food can cause low mood. If what you are eating is detrimental to your mental wellbeing then it’s time you did something about it, or maybe if you have been wondering why your mood is always low then it’s time to look closer at your diet. 

Studies have shown that in order to help patients recover from mental illness eating a diet that is rich in brain food such as fish, seafood, beans & legumes, leafy greens and other vegetables, olive oil (monounsaturated fat), yoghurt, nuts – can be an effective and relatively simple way to promote mental health, it can also be easily integrated into healthcare.

In a study that set out to identify the most nutrient-dense individual foods to prevent and promote recovery from depressive disorders and symptoms were bivalves such as oysters and mussels, various seafood, and organ meats for animal foods. The highest scoring plant foods were leafy greens, lettuces, peppers, and cruciferous vegetables.

Taking it back to basics, if you are filling your body with processed, low-quality foods how do you expect to get optimum performance from your body? You simply won’t. 

Chocolate – food or drug? 

Do you ever crave chocolate? 

Do you ever have a chocolate binge when you are feeling low?

We are all very familiar with people being addicted to alcohol and drugs but it’s been found that chocolate may evoke similar psychopharmacologic and behavioral reactions in susceptible persons.

Studies have found that chocolate contains several biologically active constituents, all of which potentially cause abnormal behaviors and psychological sensations that parallel those of other addictive substances. Most likely, a combination of chocolate’s sensory characteristics, nutrient composition, and psychoactive ingredients, compounded with monthly hormonal fluctuations and mood swings among women, will ultimately form the model of chocolate cravings.

Dark chocolate is considered the ‘healthier’ choice. Dark chocolate is known to aid the release of endorphins – the feel-good hormone. Dark chocolate boasts all the properties that are linked to the antidepressant effects of tryptophan, serotonin and phenethylamine. Dark chocolate enhances your mood and can provide a calming effect.

Are we all sugar addicts?

Sugar addiction is real. Research shows that sugar can be even more addicting than cocaine. 

Emotional or psychological dependence on sugary foods and drinks, also known as sugar addiction, is a real cause and we have all been guilty of it at some point. Have you ever wanted that ‘lift’ from a sugary treat? This is because consuming sugar releases dopamine. 

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is a key part of the “reward circuit” in the brain associated with addictive behavior. When a certain behavior causes an excess release of dopamine, you feel that oh so pleasurable “high” that you are inclined to re-experience, and so repeat the behavior – ever thought you will have 1 sweet then demolish the entire packet? Yup – that’s what we are talking about As you repeat that behavior more and more, your brain adjusts to release less dopamine. The only way to feel the same “high” as before is to repeat the behavior in increasing amounts and frequency. This is known as substance abuse. This reliance on sugar can cause weight gain and of course a low mood. If you can’t get your sugar high you are likely to become irritable and annoyed as you can’t give your brain that release of dopamine. Reliance on high sugar food can also cause excessive weight gain as you lose control of your diet. 

Skipping meals… a big NO

We have looked at how eating too much of the bad stuff can cause your problems but what about if you’re not eating enough at all? Skipping meals or not eating enough can have negative effects on your mood as well as your ability to function. 

Missing meals, especially breakfast, can lead to low blood sugar. Low blood sugar (or glucose) can leave you feeling fatigued and trained with reduced ability to concentrate. 

If you are missing entire food groups from your diet you will struggle to get all the essential nutrients your brain needs to function. Low levels of zinc, iron, B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids are associated with worsening mood and decreased energy.

Food really can affect your mood. Whether it is from a sugar high, a lack of eating or eating all the wrong stuff. 

Bad eating habits can cause you a whole host of problems such as low mood, fatigue and lack of brain energy. Blood sugar fluctuations and nutritional imbalances are often to blame. Without a steady source of fuel from the foods we eat, our minds and bodies don’t function well.

Ensure you are mindfully eating and include all the important food groups to help reduce your chances of depression and low mood.