Too Many Mood Swings? Blame Your Diet

14 Sep 2020

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Have you ever found yourself mindlessly digging into an ice cream bucket, or devouring a huge bar of chocolate when you feel down or simply overwhelmed with life? If yes, you may agree with us when we say there’s a strong relationship between what you eat and how you feel. 

And research backs this claim too! Several studies have shown that along with external factors, your diet, and nutritional deficiencies can affect your mood too. Here we try to explore the relationship between food and mood, and how certain kinds of food can provoke specific emotions.  

The Connection

The relationship between the two can be considered bi-directional. The food you eat affects your mood through physiological mechanisms, and your mood can strongly influence the choice of food you’re going to make. 

From a biochemical perspective, food is a complex mixture of chemicals that interacts with multiple systems in the body, including the brain. For example, chocolate is said to induce positive feelings and relieve fatigue-like symptoms. No wonder chocolate advertisements are so full of laughter and love! This is due to the presence of various psychoactive chemicals and amines in chocolate that stimulates the brain and helps elevate one’s mood [1]. 

Traditional medicinal systems such as Ayurveda also talk about the link between food and mood. It states that our body maintains a careful balance between elemental forces: Vata – the wind element, Kapha – the earth and water element, and Pitta – the fire element. Together these elemental forces are called the Tridoshas. Your diet plays a major role in maintaining a balance between these doshas. Certain foods aggravate certain doshas that lead to a change in emotions. For example, when your pitta dosha is aggravated, it increases heat in your body. And with it, you may feel angry and frustrated. Likewise, if you experience excess Vata, you might feel a sense of mental unease or anxiety [2]. 

Now that we’ve established the connection, let’s see what kinds of food can provoke what kinds of mood. 

Foods That Can Cause Anger

In Ayurveda, foods that fall in the “rajasic” category are linked to anger [3]. These include spicy foods, trans fats, caffeinated beverages, processed and refined foods, etc. 

Ayurveda suggests staying away from these foods especially when you feel stressed, as your metabolism is slow and you cannot digest them. This can lead to acid reflux and make you more irritable.  

Foods That Can Boost Your Mood

More often than not, we turn to food to lift our spirits when feeling low. Some foods that can work wonders for your blues include chocolate, yogurt, nuts, etc. 

Chocolate is a rich source of several mood-boosting compounds. Its sugar content plays a major role in improving mood as it works as a quick source of fuel for the brain. It also releases abundant amounts of feel-good compounds such as theobromine and N-acylethanolamine in the body[4].

Fermented foods such as yogurt, kombucha, etc. can improve your gut health and mood. During the fermentation process, probiotics are created. These are live microorganisms, also known as good bacteria that support gut health and boost the levels of the happy chemical – serotonin [5].

Nuts and seeds provide tryptophan, an amino acid that is responsible for producing serotonin. 

Almonds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds are excellent sources of this amino acid [6].

Foods That Can Make You Feel Low

When you turn to food to lift your mood, you must be cautious as some food items can have an opposite effect on your frame of mind. Having street food or greasy dishes seem like the best option when you’re upset, but can make things worse for you. 

You must try and avoid foods that contain a high amount of saturated fat, refined sugar, heavily processed ingredients, caffeine, salt, etc. when you’re sad or upset [6].

Foods That Can Boost Your Libido

When you want to spice things up in the bedroom, you can turn to some natural aphrodisiacs ready in your kitchen shelf, instead of running to the pharmacy. Yes, certain foods can put you in the mood, and make your experience memorable. These food items include fruits such as figs, bananas, and avocados. They are also good sources of vitamins and minerals that can increase blood flow to the genitals and promote a healthy sex life [7].

Eating chocolate can also work wonders for your libido. Some other food items that you can try include spinach, oysters, green tea, pesto, ginger, pumpkin seeds, garlic, watermelon, nuts, and berries.

References:

  1. https://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-879X1998001200002&lng=en&tlng=en
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4815005/#:~:text=Food%20Can%20Alter%20Moods&text=According%20to%20Ayurveda%2C%20there%20is,desire%2C%20attachment%2C%20and%20ego.
  3. https://melbourne.yogaindailylife.org.au/blog/2018/05/06/food-and-mood-introduction-to-the-3-gunas#:~:text=Rajasic%20states%20include%20passion%2C%20alertness,%2C%20too%20sour%2C%20too%20bitter.
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24117885/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25860609/
  6. https://www.healthline.com/health/depression/diet#5
  7. https://www.healthline.com/health/boost-your-libido-10-natural-tips#eat-chocolate

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