Food and Mood
We are What We Eat
Everyone knows the proverb, “We are what we eat.” However, is there any connection between nutrition and mental health, and how does it influence people’s mood? Definitely, there is a connection between food that we are consuming and how we feel. Each product contains chemicals, vitamins, and minerals that are neurotransmitters. These nutrients provide influence on a person’s mood, and they can either raise or lower it. All we know that food is useful for health, but people should care more about the quality of food, because it is very important.
So, how does the food influence peoples' mental health? Can consuming wrong food prevent to mood disorders? Do you know that eating certain products can radically decrease the level of stress?
Figure 1: We are what we eat
Source: We are what we eat (2012)
Modern physiology explains how nutrition can influence people's mind, emotions, and behavior. According to scientific research, brain cells “communicate with each other” by the way of chemical reactions. Thus, food that we are consuming has a direct connection not only to the work of an organism but to the mood as well. The question that you can ask yourself is, “What is the connection to mood?” The answer is simple ? a diet is a way to alleviate negative emotions such as fear, stress, anger, and sadness.
Daily life can cause intrusive desire to eliminate discomfort, so delicious food is a simple way to do this. Although many people can lose appetite while facing difficulties or problems, there are some who do the opposite ? they consume excessive amounts of food even without felling relief or pleasure.
Figure 2: Depression
Source: Depression (2013)
There is no certain classification about what products provide good or bad influence on mood. For example, such substance as serotonin can regulate sleep and relieve pain. Spinach, bananas, and turkey meat contain this important element.
People who have habits of not eating regularly or experience disordered eating patterns may exhibit such behaviors as the loss of control over eating or food intake restriction (Penn State 2013).
Each product can influence the organism in a different way. For instance, dairy products help to deal with difficulties. Perhaps, it sounds like paradox, but sweet melon can enhance aggressiveness, and such products as onion, garlic, cabbage, and tomato do not give the opportunity to relax (Haupt 2014).
According to studies, people have a tendency to eat more when they have depression or when they feel sad. By eating they indulge themselves, but, at the same time, they do not feel happier (Lang 2007).
Regular eating is very important, because it has a direct relation to health, which, in its turn, influences on mood. For example, if you did not have breakfast, you will possibly be tired and irritated the whole day . The nutritionist Kerry Hans has compared the human organism with a car, and said that it is the same as to try to start the car without fuel. Being for a long time without food can lead to the decrease of sugar in blood and changes in mood (Gans 2013).
Figure 3: We are what we eat
Source: We Are What We Eat (2012)
According to the research conducted at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may influence behavior, mood, and even personality of an individual. In a study, the researchers found that participants who had the lower level of this substance in blood were more influenced by stress and had symptoms of depression rather than those who had higher level of Omega-3. These people were more agreeable (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center 2006).
Surprisingly, such products like candies, cookies, and cakes (simple carbohydrates) lower people’s mood. Elizabeth Somer, a nutritionist, claims that, to increase mood, a person should eat a glass of popcorn or cereals. “You will feel effect quite soon,” she says (Somer 2015).
According to the article of Meryl Gardner, eating food with a high level of sugar is called emotional eating. The solution to eating for escape is mindful eating. It lies in the fact that a person should eat slowly, without interruption or distraction, and to savor the experience of healthy food. This method helped to reduce overeating and emotional eating (Gardner, M, Wansink, J, & Se-Bum Park 2014).
Scholars from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, discovered that when the level of depression increases, people start eating more chocolate. Those people were consuming almost 12 servings of chocolate per month without differentiation between dark or milk chocolate (The University of California - San Diego 2010).
What about drinks? Do they also influence our mood? The answer is, less, but yes. For instance, water is a universal solvent, and it executes a variety of functions. Consuming water as the main beverage will save people’s energy and cheerfulness.
According to Constance Brown-Riggs, drinking coffee is dangerous, but only in big amounts. She said that coffee is a stimulant, and when it wears off, you are going to become tired and feel a drop. Another example is green tea. All we know its advantages, especially on diet as it is antioxidant. One cup of tea will help you to fight depression and will provide the sense of general well-being and relaxation (Ramanujan 2014).
It is important to choose food in a proper way, because it contains elementsthat help the organism work both physically and mentally. All products cause better circulation of blood and, as a result, improvement of the brain processing. We can easily compare food with a fuel with the help of which the organism works and makes energy that we need during the day. The fuel of low quality provokes drowsiness, fatigue, lethargy, and exhaustion. It can cause many diseases that obviously will not bring positive emotions and good mood
It is evident that there exist a connection between food and mood. Thus, it is important to take care about daily nutrition, because mood directly depends on it. Furthermore, well-balanced ration will help to prevent acne, weakness, and bloating. The connection between food and mood is very close. Different products can increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Consuming wrong food (fast food, fried food, different types of light carbohydrates) for a long period of time, can cause not only mood swings and depression but also weight gain in the future.
Figure 4: Happy young woman using slice of bell pepper as earrings
Source: Happy young woman using slice of bell pepper as earrings (2014)
In conclusion, people should take care of their daily food intake, because it influences the general physical and mental well-being. Each product can cause different feelings, which are either positive or negative. As far as emotional well-being depends on diet and nutrition, people should change their eating habits and start eating food that is more healthy and nutritious as well as rich in vitamins and minerals. A well-balanced diet with low levels of simple carbohydrates and high level of protein can reduce pressure not only on the physical but on mental health. As a result, there exist a direct connection between the food that people consume and the feelings and mood that the diet can cause. The habit to eat something sweet or fried during the periods of stress provoke the release of the stress hormone, which leads to lamentable consequences and sometimes even to addiction. Thus, we should pay attention that the food that we want to eat should bring us not only positive thoughts and mood but provide the organism with nutrients.