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"The belly rules the mind", says a Spanish proverb, and well, research is proving it to be true. The food we eat not only plays a role in determining our physical health but also our mental and emotional well being. Researchers studying the food-mood connection have identified how the type of food we eat affects the chemical messengers to our brain.


Certain foods influence the production and release of certain brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters that affect our mood. Judith Wurtman, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine keep people alert while serotonin production in the brain has a more calming, anxiety-reducing effect. Serotonin also helps to control appetite. Consumption of carbohydrates triggers production of serotonin. Protein-rich foods contribute to producing dopamine and norepinephrine. Some other studies have found that Omega-3 is helpful in reducing depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and dementia. In studies on nutrition and depression, folate deficiency has been a common factor in many subjects. The results of these studies point to one cardinal truth about health - eat a balanced diet.

The logic behind the food-mood relationship is really simple, our brain needs an adequate supply of different nutrients to function properly. Deficiency or excess of any nutrient affects the production brain chemicals thereby how we feel. So one of the simple ways of curbing mood swinging and improving mental health is eating a balanced diet. Nutritionists and mental health professionals are advocating the 'balanced diet and exercise' combination as an effective way of stabilizing mood.

Have you ever wondered why munching a pack of chips when you feel low only makes you feel worse after sometime? Well, it's about the Glycaemic Index (GI) of the food. High GI foods such eatables with lots of sugar and salt and processed flour increase the level of blood glucose and thereby alter mood and energy. On the other hand eating foods with high Glycaemic Index (GI) can be helpful in reducing mood swings. Low GI food such as whole grains, legumes and vegetables are digested slowly had hence don't increase blood sugar level much. So if you consider chips, pastries, sugary drinks, oily food are your comfort foods, think again.

Going beyond the chemical link between food and mood, food can help you manage your mood if you restore its sanctity. Give food its due respect. Avoid eating food hurriedly or while you are doing other things. When it's time to eat focus on your food and it will not just keep you full but will also enrich you. Eating meals with family can ease your stress and improve family bonding. Aren't these the factors that ultimately affect your mood and emotional health?

Get a control over your mood

  • Protein-rich foods such as eggs, meat, legumes such as moong beans can increase your alertness for a temporary period.
  • Carbohydrates such as wholemeal bread, cereals and pasta have a calming effect.
  • Flaxseeds, walnuts, fish and other Omega 3 rich foods can help reduce depression.
  • Milk is rich in calcium and tryptophan. Calcium calms the nerves when feeling stressed and helps in inducing a sound sleep. Tryptophan triggers serotonin production.
  • Have an urge for chocolate, choose dark chocolate over normal or white chocolate. Dark chocolate has anti oxidants and mood-lifting ingredients.
  • Reduce intake of excessively processed foods and those high in salt and sugar.
  • Eat a balanced diet.
  • Have your meals at approximately the same time each day. This helps in controlling fluctuations in your blood sugar level.
  • Do not skip breakfast.

Ancient cultures were not far behind modern science when they said you are what you eat. Food is one of the fundamental life sustaining factors and hence it is no wonder it influences so many facets of our functioning. So why not pay attention to what you eat as a simple step towards improving your well being?


Health Initiative from KS Oils