The Mood-Food Connection

by Lisa Breitenwischer

February 02, 2023

The Mood-Food Connection

Have you ever experienced a day when you felt great in the morning, but after lunch, you felt down and tired? What if I told you that eating certain foods could improve your mood, provide uplifting energy and make you feel like Einstein? Well okay, maybe not Einstein, but every little bit helps, right?

The key to understanding the connection between the food we eat and our mood and level of alertness lies in understanding a little about how the brain functions. The brain communicates by chemical substances passed from one nerve cell to the next. These chemicals, called neurotransmitters, are made in the brain from the food we eat. The neurotransmitters that are most sensitive to diet, and influential in affecting mood are serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

Dopamine and norepinephrine are alertness chemicals. When they are produced we think and react more quickly, we feel more motivated, we are more attentive and overall, we are more mentally energetic.

The Best Way To Eat For Alertness.

Have meals that contain protein, are low in fat, and have carbohydrates that won’t drag you down. Mid-day is when your brain’s supply of dopamine and norepinephrine is beginning to wane. When you supply the tyrosine (from eating protein), your brain will be ready to make it into more of the two alertness neurotransmitters (dopamine and norepinephrine).
Examples of some protein-packed foods are: fish, shellfish, poultry (without skin), very lean beef (trimmed), low-fat cottage cheese, skim or low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, dried peas and beans.

More foods that make you feel… Smart.

Miso Soup, brown rice, wild rice, lentils, fish, tofu, sturdy greens & roots, seasonal squash, varied sea vegetables, toasted seeds & nuts, ginger, onion garlic, eggs, milk, liver, beef, and seasonal cooked fruits. According to research studies, these foods show an increase in focus, concentration and reaction time and retention by keeping neural pathways in the brain healthy and high functioning.                    Oatmeal – Foods that are low in fat and contain whole-grain carbohydrates give your brain memory-enhancing glucose. If you have an exam or presentation in the morning try miso soup or breakfast porridge with oatmeal and brown rice.

Serotonin is a Calming and Relaxing Chemical.

When produced, feelings of stress and tension decrease, we feel sleepy and/or sluggish and our reaction time is slower. Eating carbohydrates without protein has a calming affect. How calming depends on the type of carbohydrates and the amount and time of day they are eaten. Eating carbohydrates that are low on the Glycemic Index will promote the more focused and calming aspect of serotonin release and less of the sleepy, sluggish feeling.
Low-Glycemic Carbohydrates: millet, sweet rice, mochi garabanzo or Aduki beans, buckwheat, whole-grain rye bread, sourdough rye bread, wheat pita bread, sweet potato, sweet squash or root veggies—carrots, parsnips, turnip, cabbage and most wheat pastas.

This article focuses on the physiological effects in the human body.Don’t forget to checkout article “Pot or Not, Your Body Produces it’s own Cannabinoids”. Stay connected to learn more about the Energetics of Food and the effects it has on our mood, character, and energy coming soon. 

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