by Ashley Ess November 08, 2021 3 min read

You may be familiar with how hormones can affect your mood. But did you know the food you eat can have an impact on your mood as well?

Good nutrition is your foundation when it comes to feeling your best. As the saying goes, if you want to feel well, you must eat well. Eating well sets your body up to function at its optimal level. It plays a large role in how you feel in both body and mind — by positively impacting hormones associated with mood levels.

How Does Food Affect Mood?

The mid-day slump. Energy highs and lows. Spikes and crashes. These can all be signs of a blood sugar imbalance. Not eating enough nutritious whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables and high-quality proteins, and instead choosing foods high in simple carbohydrates and sugars can throw blood sugar levels off balance.

The food we eat — or even not eating enough — can impact hormone production and cell signaling, so our mood often depends on the balance of our blood sugar levels. Blood sugar imbalances often manifest as mood swings, irritability, low energy and cravings. Eating well can help improve these imbalances, thereby improving mood.

Whole Foods vs. Processed Foods

There are several factors to consider when it comes to finding the underlying cause of mood or hormone imbalances. Genetics, environment and exposure to stress are just a few of the possible culprits. Eating a diet high in processed foods can also lead to nutrient deficiencies, affecting hormone balance that can then impact mood as well. While processed foods may retain some nutrition, such as protein, they are generally also chock-full of sugars and unhealthy fats that can trigger an unhealthy inflammatory response in the body.

On the other hand, whole food meals contain anti-inflammatory properties and important nutrients like fats, proteins, carbohydrates with their essential building blocks: vitamins, minerals, amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids, paving the way for hormone balance. The anti-inflammatory Mediterranean diet, consisting of an abundance of plant-based foods and extra virgin organic olive oil, wild caught fish and poultry eaten in moderation, can supply the body with the balance of nutrients it needs to function at its best.

The Mood-Stress-Sleep Connection

When the body is fed well and rests well, it feels well. Likewise, when the body doesn't get the nutrients and rest it needs, it can't function at its optimal state. It's a domino effect that reveals the synergy of the body's systems — no matter what side of the spectrum your lifestyle is on.

When processed or low-quality foods overtake our diet, we can feel sluggish, tired or experience a lower mood. Our ability to deal with stress can also be affected. Overconsumption of processed foods can lead to difficulty losing weight or keeping it off.

Eating well and supplementing with quality vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients gives it a chance to function at a more balanced level, as each system will have more of what it requires. When the body has what it needs to function properly, mood, stress levels and sleep quality can all improve. A deeper sleep can help you wake up energized, ready to start the day feeling well in body and mind.

Eating well to feel well begins by making simple choices. You can start by eating three balanced meals per day that include more colorful, fiber-rich produce, protein and healthy fats. Incorporating an easy-to-digest smoothie for breakfast and adding in daily nutrient boosters can provide extra support.

Focus on eating good-mood foods like leafy green vegetables, oily fish, raw nuts and seeds. Limit or avoid common inflammatory foods from your diet like highly processed foods, refined sugars and high levels of saturated fats to assist with hormone balance.

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