Food & Mood.

You have read &/or heard my opinions on food & mood for a very long time. On many occasions I have encouraged you to start a food diary that also notes how you feel emotionally after you eat a specific food or a meal. This is why you should start doing this…

I saw an article on BBC news regarding food & mental health. I decided to dig a bit further to see if I could find any research on the subject. We can all stand to improve our mental health, but especially when dealing with a life altering diagnosis. 

This is the article that started my thoughts on the subject: How food can improve your mental health 22 May 2017  Approximately one in four of us will experience a mental health problem each year in England.  As part of our fight against this, we have a very much under utilised tool – food. In BBC One’s Doctor in the House, I try to help 34-year-old Emma Gleeson, who has been experiencing anxiety, depression and panic attacks for many years. 

This article is worth a serious look. The dramatic changes in her mental health is wonderful. Emma states: “I had been living on a diet of takeaways, fizzy drinks and general processed and convenience foods for as long as I can remember, and didn’t for one moment think that what I ate was contributing in any way to the anxiety and panic attacks I’d been experiencing for years,” she said.

“Since meeting and spending time with Dr Rangan, he has changed my entire outlook on food, and why certain foods were potentially having a negative impact on my mental health. I now only buy and cook with fresh food, I make my own stocks, I eat plenty of fish and I try to reduce the amount of sugar I consume. I feel so much better and intend to keep this up.”

Diet changes to effect a change in our mental health should be made along with any therapy or prescriptions you are already taking. This is not meant to replace mental health care if you need it.

 In Psychology today: How Food Effects Mood has a list of articles written about food & mood. They are all very good. The first one isRecent Links Between Food and Mood : The benefits of being a Mediterranean omnivore by Gary L. Wenk Ph.D.Your …Brain on Food, Posted Apr 08, 2015 “Considerable evidence has linked an unhealthy diet to obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cancer.  We now understand how chronic obesity ages us and then underlies the foundation of our death.  Furthermore, obesity leads to body-wide chronic inflammation that predisposes us to depression and dementia.  However, these are all the long-term consequences of our diet upon our body and brain.  What about the short- term consequences?  Can specific nutrients in my breakfast or lunch influence my brain’s function today?  Intuitively, we would all agree that this is certainly likely.  After all, being depressed or anxious can lead to poor dietary habits; conversely, poor dietary choices can lead to depression and anxiety.  Although it can be difficult to determine which came first in some people, most relevant studies indicate that an unhealthy diet is a significant risk factor for future depressive symptoms (Br J Psychiatry 2009;195:408413).” Continue reading for more information on studies & the 🙂 Mediterranean diet & mood! 

This next article is about moods & the Mediterranean diet but it also lists 6 foods & their impact on your mood; salmon, probiotics (gut to brain link 🙂 ), leafy greens, blueberries, oysters & chocolate. 

 From the Washington Post:  6 foods to eat for a mood boost   April 6  “If you’ve ever found bliss in a bite of chocolate or smiled when someone offered you a french fry, then you know food can make you happy. But while it’s true that your favorite treat may give you a brief emotional lift, sustained mood-boosting brain power can only come from a consistent supply of nutritious foods.

Recognizing the difference between a quick jolt of cookie-fueled joy and the positive effects of long-term nutrition for brain health is important. Researchers are taking a closer look at how food can impact your mood and future cognitive function, and they are finding that what you eat does make a difference.” I do like the cookie-fueled joy, but I agree with the idea that long-term nutrition is more important. This article shows it is not just what you are no longer eating~ junk food~ but also the impact of what you are eating every day on your mental wellbeing. 

I found this article in Food & Nutrition: The Relationship Between Food and Mood BY ABBIE GELLMAN, MS, RD, CDN, 02/08/2017  Turns out that the old saying “you are what you eat” is true, especially in relation to food and mood. Over the past several years, many evidence-based studies have been published detailing how some foods help improve your mood while others make it worse. Important nutrients affect brain chemistry, impacting mood, memory and cognitive function.  However, if you’re eating a healthy balance of whole foods that contain a variety of nutrients, you’re more likely to feel calmer, more content and generally in a better mood.”

The author, Abbie Gellman, goes on to talk about; Ways Your Food Intake Can Effect Your Mood & Ways You Can Improve Your Mood Through Food. This was my favorite tip in the second part: “Consume foods as close as possible to how they look in nature. For example, an orange is less processed and closer to nature than orange juice.” Good advice.

Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food , Eva Selhub MD, POSTED NOVEMBER 16, 2015, 9:00 AM , UPDATED NOVEMBER 17, 2015,  “Think about it. Your brain is always “on.” It takes care of your thoughts and movements, your breathing and heartbeat, your senses — it works hard 24/7, even while you’re asleep. This means your brain requires a constant supply of fuel. That “fuel” comes from the foods you eat — and what’s in that fuel makes all the difference. Put simply, what you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain and, ultimately, your mood.

Like an expensive car, your brain functions best when it gets only premium fuel. Eating high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress — the “waste” (free radicals) produced when the body uses oxygen, which can damage cells.”

The brain/gut connection has been the subject of several studies. This is a good article from Johns Hopkins Medicine, Healthy Aging: The Brain-Gut Connection“Anxiety and depression have been thought to contribute to gastro conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A Johns Hopkins expert explains how what’s going on in your gut could be affecting your brain….If you’ve ever “gone with your gut” to make a decision or felt “butterflies in your stomach” when nervous, you’re likely getting signals from an unexpected source: your second brain.  Hidden in the walls of the digestive system, this “brain in your gut” is revolutionizing medicine’s understanding of the links between digestion, mood, health and even the way you think.”  

If you are mindful of the brain/gut connection, passing up the coke & fries makes sense. It doesn’t mean that you CAN’T try the deep fried Oreo at the fair. It means you might want to share it with someone & enjoy your half. Just don’t make them at home 🙂 

This article from WebMD was published December 15, 2009. This idea has been around for a long time & the recommendations in the article still apply. How Food Affects Your Moods Can your diet help put you in a good mood (or a bad one)?  By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD

So how should you change your diet if you want to try to improve your mood? You’ll find eight suggestions below. Try to incorporate as many as possible, because regardless of their effects on mood, most of these changes offer other health benefits as well. Read the article for details about each of these.

  1. Don’t Banish Carbs — Just Choose ‘Smart’ Ones
  2. Get More Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  3. Eat a Balanced Breakfast
  4. Keep Exercising and Lose Weight (Slowly)
  5. Move to a Mediterranean Diet 🙂 🙂 🙂
  6. Get Enough Vitamin D
  7. Select Selenium-Rich Foods
  8. Don’t Overdo Caffeine

Eliminating or decreasing the amount of sugar & processed foods is a good start. Dare I say it? Yes, move towards a plant based diet such as the Mediterranean.

I will leave you with 2 quotes from my favorite author Michael Pollen’s books & a list of Brain Food recipes below.

“It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car” From Food Rules: An Eaters Manual. My favorite book of his.

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” from In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto 

Until next week…Mary 🙂

Here are a few links to Brain Food Recipes!

  • PureWow: 30 Mood-Boosting Dinners for a Happier, Healthier Month  SARAH STIEFVATER, MAR. 22, 2017  “Our perfect dinner is delicious and nutritious enough that we don’t feel guilty about eating it. Basically, we want to eat things that make us feel good. Which is why we’ll be whipping up the following 30 meals this month: They all include ingredients that are proven to boost your mood.
  • From Eating Well: Brain-Boosting Dinner Recipes   “Eat for a sharper mind with these healthy dinner recipes to boost brain power. Adding omega-3-rich ingredients, such as oily fish, to your diet, as well as iron-rich foods, such as beans, and water-rich foods, such as leafy salad greens, can support healthy cognitive function. Try one of our healthy salmon recipes or hearty bean recipes tonight for a brain-boosting dinner.”
  • Cooking Light, Health News: 5 Recipes to Boost Brain Health Much depends on what you eat, especially how you age, feel, and focus. So why not feed your body and brain with clean, high-octane fuel? Here’s how.
  • A Couple Cooks: 10 Brain Food Recipes to Boost Your Mood We’re Sonja & Alex, a husband and wife who love to cook. This website is a collection of the simple, healthy, and mostly vegetarian recipes we cook in our kitchen. We also host the A Couple Cooks Podcast, a show for a growing community of people who love to cook and eat well.
  • Eating Well: Brain-Boosting, Healthy Breakfast Recipes Our healthy breakfast recipes deliver brain-boosting nutrients, like iron and omega-3s, plus whole grains to support cognitive function and improve memory while powering your morning. Try our healthy granola, breakfast-sandwich, waffle recipes and more easy breakfast recipes for a healthy start to your day.