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Does Food Affect Your Mood? Staying Healthy – Physically & Mentally

September 19, 2022

Does Food Affect Your Mood? Staying Healthy – Physically & Mentally

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As the old saying goes, you are what you eat. It’s no secret that the food we eat can significantly impact our physical health. Is it possible that food can influence our mental health as well? What effects can food have on our mood?

Because extensive research is needed to prove the benefits of food, some potential benefits are still being studied. This article will focus on the science that shows a strong, proven connection between food and emotional benefits. Let’s get started!

How Junk Food Affects Us

Salted french fries on a wooden cutting board

We all know what it’s like to eat an unhealthy meal – perhaps tasty in the moment, but before long, you start to feel worse. Sweetened desserts, fried foods, processed meats, and high-fat dairy products cannot make a sustainable diet. So, can these foods also hurt our emotional well-being?

Studies give us a side-by-side comparison of the long-term effects of a processed diet, like the one described above, and a whole-food diet of fruit, vegetables, and healthy proteins. Participants who regularly ate processed foods showed an increased risk of experiencing depressive symptoms.

Our physical health connects to our mental health in ways that we are continually discovering. If eating unhealthy foods might put us at risk for negative emotional symptoms, can healthy food help boost our mood?

Does Eating Healthy Make Us Happy?

A woman reading a paper smiles while she sits on a bench and drinks an energy smoothie with multivitamins

Everyone has their guilty pleasures when it comes to food – usually something with high amounts of refined sugar or fat. We turn to unhealthy snacks because they taste good, and we enjoy them, even though we know they aren’t good for us.

People tend to think of “healthy” foods as a long-term health investment that won’t provide results for a long time. In truth, there are more short-term benefits than you might realize.

One study found that in-the-moment happiness while eating vegetables was the highest among all food categories, including dessert. The induced happiness of eating sweet desserts was, on average, no better than that of fruits and vegetables.

Eating healthy foods provides other emotional benefits much faster than you might expect. Many people believe a healthy diet improves long-term overall happiness by reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. However, the connection between a healthy diet and improved happiness is estimated to occur within just two years.

The Effects of Serotonin and Vitamin B

Current psychological studies are examining the relationship between serotonin and the brain. While studies are ongoing, the information we have now shows a strong correlation between serotonin, vitamin B, and improved mood.

Serotonin

Serotonin is a critical hormone that helps regulate mood. Its emotional benefits make it a targeted treatment for psychological disorders. Our body uses an amino acid called tryptophan to produce serotonin, and a diet of low-tryptophan foods has been connected to lower levels of serotonin in the brain. Makes sense, right?

The connection between tryptophan and serotonin suggests that a diet of high-tryptophan foods may increase serotonin levels. Some foods that contain high levels of tryptophan are:

  • Spinach
  • Eggs
  • Salmon
  • Pineapple
  • Milk
  • Nuts

Scientists are still studying the impact of a high-tryptophan diet on the serotonin levels in the brain, but current research suggests these foods may help regulate your mood.

Vitamin B

Vitamin B has also been connected to improved emotional well-being. Studies suggest that vitamin B positively impacts mood outcomes, especially regarding stress management.

You can find vitamin B in multivitamin supplements, leafy greens, and citrus fruits. If you’re looking to pack in these mood-boosting nutrients, you can also find vitamin B and tryptophan in healthy energy smoothies made with milk, kale or spinach, nuts, and fruit.

Rule the Day with Smoothie King

A smiling couple drink Smoothie King smoothies at a park while sitting on a bench

Smoothies are a convenient, tasty way to ensure you’re consuming the proper foods you need to be healthy – physically and mentally. However, some smoothies are filled with added sugar and high-fructose corn syrup to “improve” their taste. We don’t believe in that.

At Smoothie King, we skip high-fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors. Instead, we make our products with whole fruits and organic veggies so you can get the healthiest option available, customized for your taste buds. Start improving your mood with Smoothie King.

View our menu and find healthy smoothies near you today!

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