It’s widely known that your mood can trigger food cravings, cause you to overeat or kill your appetite entirely. But the opposite also holds true in that the food you eat can make or break your mood.
This is apparent not only in the minutes after you’ve eaten but also over time, as your diet helps to shape your mental health from the inside out.
How Does Food Impact Your Mood?
I simply cannot overstate the importance of your food choices when it comes to your mental health. In a very real sense, you have TWO brains—one in your head, and one in your gut—both of which are created from the same tissue during fetal development.
These two systems are connected via your vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve that runs from your brain stem down to your abdomen. It is now well established that the vagus nerve is the primary route your gut bacteria use to transmit information to your brain.
Maintaining optimal gut health is therefore paramount when trying to address your mental state. In this regard, the modern “Western” diet has several things working against it:
- Genetically modified foods can significantly alter your gut flora, thereby promoting pathogens while decimating the beneficial microbes necessary for optimal mental and physical health.
- Glyphosate—the most widely used herbicide on food crops in the world with nearly 1 BILLION pounds applied every year—has been shown to cause both nutritional deficiencies, especially minerals (which are critical for brain function and mood control), and systemic toxicity. Moreover, recent cell research has found that it is so toxic it exhibits carcinogenicity in the nearly unbelievable parts-per-trillion concentration range.
- High-fructose diets also feed pathogens in your gut, allowing them to overtake beneficial bacteria. Furthermore, sugar suppresses activity of a key growth hormone in your brain called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF levels are critically low in both depression and schizophrenia.
Sugar consumption also triggers a cascade of chemical reactions in your body that promote chronic inflammation. In the long term, inflammation disrupts the normal functioning of your immune system and wreaks havoc on your brain.
Last but not least, sugar (particularly fructose) and grains contribute to insulin and leptin resistance and impaired signaling, which also play a significant role in your mental health.
- Artificial food ingredients, the artificial sweetener aspartame in particular, can wreak havoc with your brain function. Both depression and panic attacks are known potential side effects of aspartame consumption. Other additives, such as artificial colorings, are also known to impact mood.
In the big picture, nourishing your gut health is therefore essential to maintaining a positive mood – and I’ll discuss how to do this shortly. However, even individual food choices may make a difference in how you feel mentally and emotionally from day to day …