How eating the right foods can fix your mood
Can you eat your way to a better mood?
There is emerging research which explores how our diet can improve our gut health, which can in turn help boost our mood. Let’s take a closer look at gut health and the link between food and mood.
Our large intestine is full of trillions of bacteria. There is a mixture of good (and not so good) bacteria in our gut, which has more of an impact on our health than you might think. Good bacteria feeds on the fibrous parts of foods that our body cannot digest and produces chemicals that can influence our emotions. These chemicals travel all over the body to help regulate hormone levels, including those that affect mood. The little bugs in our gut also help produce over 90 percent of our body’s serotonin, which is an important hormone for happiness.
The Link between food and mood
The ‘gut-brain axis’ is the communication pathway that connects our gut to our brain. One of the best examples of this connection is that feeling of butterflies you get in your stomach when you feel nervous or stressed. This connection is made more complex, as our mood can be affected by how the bugs in our gut respond to the food that we eat. Research has shown that consuming a diet rich in wholegrains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats can help improve symptoms of depression when combined with social support. Those who improved their diet showed the greatest improvement in depressive symptoms compared to those who didn’t. Exercise can also help improve our gut health through diversifying the types of bacteria that live there.
Diet for happiness!
What foods should we be eating to help support our mental health? The good news is that it all comes down to balance. Aim to eat a variety of foods from the five food groups, every day. This includes fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, lean meats or meat alternatives, and dairy or dairy alternatives.
Fruits, vegetables and wholegrains provide us with lots of fibre, which the good bacteria in our gut love. Some fermented dairy products (like yoghurt or kefir) can also help the good bugs in our gut thrive.
Try our cinnamon, pear and date porridge for a fibre packed breakfast to keep your gut (and your mind) happy and healthy.
Cinnamon, Pear and Date Porridge
- 1L low-fat milk
- 2 large pears, skin on, cored and diced
- 1½ cups rolled oats
- 1 tsp cinnamon and extra to serve
- ½ cup chopped pitted dates or prunes
- In a saucepan, combine the milk, oats, cinnamon, pears, and dates. Bring to the boil, stirring continuously.
- Lower heat and allow to cook for 10 -15 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Divide porridge into 4 bowls and sprinkle with cinnamon and or extra milk if desired.
- Conlon MA, Bird AR. The Impact of Diet and Lifestyle on Gut Microbiota and Human Health. Nutrients [Internet]. 2015 Jan [cited 2020 Nov 2];7(1):17-44. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4303825/
- Carpenter S. That Gut Feeling. Am Psych Assoc [Internet]. 2012 Sep [cited 2021 May 18];43(8). Available from: https://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/09/gut-feeling
- Jacka FN, O’Neil A, Opie R et al. A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial). BMC Med [Internet]. 2017 Jan 30 [cited 2021 May 18];15(23). Available from: https://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-017-0791-y
Last updated: November 17, 2023 at: 1:34 pm