How does food af­fect our mood?

South Waikato News - - Your Health -

Email your ques­tions for Dr Libby to ask.dr­libby@fair­fax­me­ Please note, only a se­lec­tion of ques­tions can be an­swered. to our brain, yet many neu­ro­trans­mit­ters are ac­tu­ally made in the gut.

Fer­mented foods such as sauer­kraut are rich in acetic acid which can help pro­mote good stom­ach acid pro­duc­tion and hence great di­ges­tion, al­low­ing ben­e­fi­cial mi­crobes to re­side in the large in­tes­tine, thereby en­hanc­ing our mood. You can buy them or make your own.

Dark choco­late is a good source of tryp­to­phan, an amino acid that sup­ports the pro­duc­tion of sero­tonin. Choco­late con­sump­tion also drives the brain to pro­duce another chem­i­cal called anan­damide, which has been shown to tem­po­rar­ily block feel­ings of pain and de­pres­sion. Dopamine is also pro­duced when we eat choco­late, and this can have a mood lift­ing ef­fect on many peo­ple. How­ever, for those with al­ready el­e­vated dopamine lev­els, ex­ces­sive amounts of choco­late can lead to ten­sion and ag­gres­sion.

So like with all things re­lated to mood, there is no one size fits all; some find choco­late en­hances their mood, for oth­ers it gives them a headache and/or fires them up.

Ba­nanas, par­tic­u­larly ripe ba­nanas, can help to reg­u­late dopamine – a feel good fac­tor – as they con­tain a high con­cen­tra­tion of ty­ro­sine, an amino acid that helps gen­er­ate dopamine in the brain. Ba­nanas are also rich in B group vi­ta­mins, in­clud­ing vi­ta­min B6, as well as mag­ne­sium, both es­sen­tial for re­lax­ation and a calm ner­vous sys­tem. Other food sources of ty­ro­sine in­clude al­monds, eggs and meats.


Dopamine is pro­duced when we eat choco­late, and this can have a mood lift­ing ef­fect on many peo­ple.

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