How Does Diet Influence Emotions?
Emotions are regulated by a multitude of factors, from personality and culture, to social roles and gender. But one major—perhaps surprising—factor that rules human emotions is a person’s diet.
It’s true! What a person consumes affects their overall feelings, and while that may seem far-fetched, science has proved that diet plays an important, undeniable role. Students are often taught the various benefits of a balanced diet because it not only supports the systematic functioning of the human body, but also uplifts your mood!
However, a balanced diet must contain the right quantities of vitamins, minerals, fibres, carbohydrates, and protein. Including each of these five things in your diet is non-negotiable—not solely because your body needs it, but also because they will boost your vitality—both physically and mentally.
This is why one should always include a variety of fruits and vegetables in their diet, therefore ensuring optimal nutrient intake. But most of all, caring for one’s gut is extremely important. The diversity of microbes in your gut determines how you feel throughout the day.
In times of extreme stress and fatigue, the balance of your gut flora can become disrupted. The converse holds true as well since your gut behaving out of the ordinary also affects your mood. Taking care of what keeps your gut happy is fairly simple! Just consume plenty of fibre and fluids, and make sure to exercise regularly for that day-long smile.
There are more easily accessible, but widely underrated ways your diet can make a significant improvement to your daily emotional state. Water is to the human body what fuel is to a vehicle and is important in more ways than one could possibly imagine.
If you find yourself getting cranky or you cannot focus on a single task, try drinking a full glass of water. You will find that your body will instantly respond in a very positive manner and your mood will be elevated. Regular hydration will also help prevent nasty side-effects, such as constipation and headaches.
And that’s not a good feeling! You can also consume juices, coffee, and smoothies—but be aware that they can contain sugar and other additives as well, which may interfere with your healthy diet, thus hampering your mood as well.
You might think that your emotional state is primarily dependent on what you eat for your meals. You may not, however, have thought about when you eat them. Researchers have found that consuming your meals at the same time every day is a great habit, one that goes a long way in your overall health—and by extension—your state of mind.
What’s more, skipping meals can reduce your blood sugar levels, making you feel weaker and more tired, negatively affecting your mood. Space your meals out at regular intervals and make sure you don’t go too long without food, unless you want to ride an emotional roller coaster.
The concept of feel-good or comfort foods has been thrown around for quite some time now. I’m here to debunk the myth that pizza, burgers, and doughnuts can make us truly feel good. Instead, consuming these junk foods will make you feel bloated and full (owing to an unhealthy amount of sugar). So, the next time you find yourself reaching for a slice, try opting for quinoa, dark chocolate, yogurt, mushrooms, and other foods to make your mind and body feel nourished. Foods like these that are rich in probiotics and probiotics make your gut happy!
Gluten and Emotions
While a number of recent studies indicate a clear negative effect of gluten on the digestive tract of people with celiac disease, there is also a significant chance that the nervous system is being impacted too. As a result, mood disturbance is considered as an indicator of gluten sensitivity.
If we try to understand the cause of depressive symptoms in individuals with gluten sensitivity further, there are two possible explanations. The first is that the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues (also known as autoimmunity), causing inflammation in gluten-sensitive individuals. The other suggests that gluten interferes with protein absorption.
Here, it is important to note that this malabsorption results in the deficiency of tryptophan, an amino acid responsible for a feeling of relaxation and a sense of well-being, thus, putting the individual at a higher risk of developing depression and anxiety. Inflammation in the nervous system is also capable of creating these kinds of problems.
It is worth mentioning that these studies on gluten are anything but conclusive! Having observed the behaviors in a significant number of people, several researchers believe that it is safe to say that depression has more to do with the reduction in quality of life associated with celiac disease than it has to do with the effect of gluten.
To summarise, the link between mood and food is very diverse, since human emotions are as unpredictable as the weather. However, there are some definite ABCs that one can adhere to in order to ensure they feel good and in control of their emotions throughout their day. Dietary patterns do contribute to a healthy lifestyle, and a healthy lifestyle, in turn, positively affects your emotions. It will keep you energized and support your mental health!