Eating Your Way to a Bad Mood

There is no doubt that our thoughts, emotions, attitudes and moods, as well as control of our nerve and muscle function, are all centered in the brain. The food we eat directly affect all organs in your body, but none more so than the brain. The link between a poor diet and poor emotional health is not only real, it’s common.

Deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals are extremely deleterious to the body, and even more so to the brain. A varied diet of complex carbohydrates will supply the brain with amino acids to help it perform at its peak function. Eat too few, and risk depression, headaches and fatigue.

Because of the fortification of grains and abundance of food in industrialized countries, we don’t often see mental and emotion disorders due to famine. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of cases of mental and emotional disorders due to poor diet, anorexia, obesity and people with special nutritional problems, such as alcoholics, however. Having any one of these disorders can severe affect your moods and the way you act and react towards others.

All of the most basic brain and body functions in life are sustained by oxygen, water and food. Messing with your diet can cause these primal functions to literally short circuit. The brain works by chemical, electrical and hormonal interactions. Chemical neurons in the brain communicate messages constantly to each other. These compounds are synthesized as needed from amino acids and other components consumed through the diet.

Tryptophan, an amino acid, is found in all complete proteins such as meat, eggs and milk to aid the brain in producing serotonin. This neural transmitter regulates quite a few functions, such as sleep, pituitary hormone secretion and pain reception.

Despite what you may have heard, there are no truths or evidence to prove food additives or junk food instantly affects your mood and the way you behave. Even with the justification of the “twinkie defense,” your diet does not control your immediate actions and reactions. Only a poor diet prolonged over time can create the deficiencies related to emotional and behavioral disorders.

But don’t think it can’t happen to you. It takes less than 90 days to see a significant change in mood and behavior if you deprive yourself of certain vital nutrients. Lacking B vitamins can cause memory loss and various other behavioral and emotional changes in a very short amount of time.

Eating a variety of seafood, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, liver, eggs, soybeans, whole grain breads, cereals, and pastas is a great way to give the body and mind what it needs for fats, amino acids and B group vitamins. Cutting down on sugary carbohydrates and replacing them with high protein at lunchtime is especially helpful.
Caffeine is one of the best-known mood altering dietary items. This stimulant can be found in teas, colas, chocolate and particularly coffee. Alcohol is the next best-known mood-altering substance and the most toxic on the organs and brain. Be aware that alcohol depresses many functions of the brain, causing depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, and unexpected irritability.

Knowing that what goes in your mouth in the way of food can directly affect what may come out of it in words, be wise in what you choose to eat. A varied diet of healthy foods will keep your moods and energy up. Choose poor ingredients, processed foods, or nothing at all, and be prepared for low energy, moods swings, anxiety, sleeplessness, and possible depression. P.S. If you must drink—eat. The merry part will handle itself.