The connection between your mood and diet

Posted by Shauna McQueen MS RD on 10/07/20
Shauna McQueen MS RD


Our diet has much more to do with our mood and mental health than we often realize – the foods we eat affect our mood on a chemical level.

In fact, the gut and our mental state seem to be so intimately related that it’s often referred to as the “second brain.” 

While mental health is complicated and multiple treatment approaches may be recommended, emerging research continues to emphasize nutrition’s potential role in helping to reduce negative symptoms. In fact, even one extra serving of fruits or vegetables each day may make a difference. 

Here are some of the ways that the gut and mood are connected.

  • More traditional, or plant-based, diets are associated with a reduced risk of depression and mood disorders, whereas more modern diets high in convenience foods and low in plant-based foods are associated with an increased risk of depression and mood disorders.

  • About 90% of the body’s serotonin, a feel-good neurotransmitter, is produced in the gut. When gut health is compromised, serotonin production may be affected - low serotonin levels are associated with depression.

  • Amino acids and micronutrients from the diet help provide the building blocks for neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine which affect mood. Nutrient deficient diets can affect the body’s ability to adequately produce essential neurotransmitters.

  • Foods high in added sugar may provide a temporary boost in mood, but as blood glucose levels crash, mood (and energy) tends to also take a dive.


Topics: Food, Health and Human Performance, Nutrition, health and wellness

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