• How food can affect your emotions

    How food can affect your emotions

    MIND See all MIND posts

    Nutrition has a huge influence on the biochemistry of the brain and respectively on our behavior, moods and thoughts. The fats and carbohydrates in our diet impact not only our weight, but also our mood and overall mental health.

    What stands behind phenomena, such as the relationship food-depression-anxiety; emotional states before and after eating; emotional eating; the popular among women “I can’t live without sweet”; the impact of vegetarianism and veganism on our mental health?

    The relationship Food-Depression-Anxiety

    I guess you have heard about the recently popular low-carb and high-fat nutrition regimen, about Paleo and Primal. I strongly recommend them to anyone with depression and anxiety – at least as an experiment for a month.

    What you can eat?
    Meat (any kind of it, including the fat, trifles), vegetables, nuts (without peanuts), butter, coconut and coconut products, milk and dairy products, olive oil, mushrooms, olives, fish, fruit – in moderation.

    What not to eat?
    Sugar, pasta and cereals, vegetable oil, legumes, rice, potatoes, soybeans, corn, margarine, store-bought sausages. In most cases the hunger for sweet disappears after a few days, mood is stabilized and there is an influx of energy.

    The low cholesterol means low levels of serotonin, which means – depression. Cholesterol is of great importance for serotonin receptors in the brain. People on a low-fat diet are exposed to twice the risk of suicide or violent death. Dr. Beatrice Golomb collects data from all studies made since 1965, dealing with the relationship between low cholesterol levels and violence, and she concluded that the relationship is causal.

    Clinical studies conducted in the strictly monitored environment also concluded that low-fat diets increase anger, depression and anxiety. Lower cholesterol levels are found “more often among criminals; people diagnosed with violent or aggressive personality disorders; killers with a history of violence and suicide attempts, provoked by alcohol; and people with low internalized social norms and low self-control”.

    English researchers conducted an experiment on “a group of mentally healthy people with no history of depression and anxiety, and who have not experienced stressful situations during the experiment.” The participants in the experiment were divided into 2 groups – the one group ate 41% fat; the other – 25%. All the food was provided by the researchers, the aim was the food to be as far as possible identical. After awhile they exchange diets – people on low-fat diet began receiving food rich in fats and vice versa. Each volunteer passes through an assessment of their mental condition in certain periods of time. The results?

    “The levels of anger and hostility decrease slightly during the high-fat period; and rise significantly during the low-fat, high in carbohydrates period. The same happens with levels of depression. Anxiety levels decreased during high-fat period and remained unchanged during the low-fat period”.

    What is the relationship sugar – depression?

    Anyone who does not take a sufficient amount of quality protein is at risk of serotonin depletion – i.e. depression – due to depletion of tryptophan. What is the relationship with the sugar? Consumption of sugar triggers the release of insulin. The insulin moves along the blood system, collects sugars, fats, amino acids and transports them to the cells for storage. The only substance with which the insulin does not connects, is the tryptophan. As the other amino acids have been “swept” by insulin, the tryptophan has no longer competition, and can easily pass the blood-brain barrier. Thus in a short time, the deprived of serotonin brain is provided with the so desired tryptophan. This is the reason why depressed people develop passion for sweets and starchy “sedative foods”.

    The foods you eat can confuse your limbic system and affect your emotional health in the first place

    For the appearance and fat reduction it is a well known fact, but more and more starts also to be discussed how the mental health is affected by the food that people consume.

    Limbic system
    The Limbic system


    The limbic system is made up of several structures of the brain and is involved in the regulation of the functions of:

    – internal organs
     – smell
     – behavior
     – emotions
     – memory
     – sleep and others

    Have you felt like a rag? You eat rubbish. Swallowing junk food conscious and you do it, because you let this happen to you – without resisting. The marketing of the companies has turned you into their subscriber.

    Junk food means worthless food without any nutritional value.
    Burger King will not make you commit a suicide, at least I don’t think so.
    Neither will eating McDonalds cause you to smash your head into the sidewalk.
    But you can continue reading about what some foods are doing with your brain and limbic system.

    Avoid these seven foods, they trigger depression

    1. Refined sugar
    The chocolate creates good taste and sensation in the mouth, causing intense pleasure for some people. Most of us like to eat chocolate. It gives us a nice burst of energy for 20 minutes, however, as all other products containing refined sugar – it is the reason about high blood sugar levels. It is interesting that due to a hangover the sugar hinders our mood, exhaust our strength, and is also linked with sleep disorders.

    2. Artificial sweeteners
    Aspartame is a bad thing. Especially if you are prone to depression! It blocks the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin and causes a drop in mood, headache, and insomnia. Artificial sweeteners are bad news for the brain because they poison it seriously and surely.

    3. Processed foods
    Consumption of refined or processed carbohydrates – such as white bread, cereals, pasta, and snacks will produce the same effect on blood sugar, such as eating a basket of jelly beans. Bagels and donuts are treated similarly by the brain. Here we don’t talk about the liver or digestive system. After the initial boost of insulin you will end up tired, irritated and with puffy eyes.

    4. Hydrogenated oils
    Away from fried chicken, fried cheese sticks, breading, cheese, fried squids, potatoes … Everything is prepared with hydrogenated oils and contains trans fats, that can potentially contribute to depression. Also watch out for saturated fats found in animal products such as deli meats, high-fat dairy products, butter, etc. They can clog arteries and prevent blood flow to the brain suddenly or prequel.

    5. Foods with high sodium content
    Exclusion of foods with fat content may be a good consideration for your waistline and great potential reason for your positive emotions. The excess of sodium in these products may impair your neurological system, contributing to depression, and can fold the immune system response, resulting in fatigue. Too much salt also leads to fluid retention and bloating, and I don’t want to tell you how depressing this is.

    6. Alcohol
    The alcohol in the central nervous system is a depressant. If you have a history of mood disorder, consume it with caution. Your central nervous system is responsible for taking information through the senses that control motor functions, as well as thinking, understanding and reasoning. It also controls the emotions. The alcohol moves all of these down and exacerbates the symptoms associated with depression.

    7. Caffeine
    According to some experts, even a small amount of caffeine can contribute to depression and anxiety. Caffeine violates sleep and makes the natural process of falling asleep more difficult; these disturbances affect the mood. This can cause agitation, tremor and nervousness. Energy drinks, in particular, are the bad news, as some of them contain caffeine equivalent of 14 cups of coffee.

    The bad mood makes us reaching out for foods containing sugar and fat, and often eating between meals. Unfortunately, the good mood does not necessarily lead to a healthy diet. But remember – what works are small changes in long term. Preparing your meals by yourself, instead of reaching out for ready meals and packed foods in the supermarket can make a huge difference in your mood and appearance in long term. Start today, enjoy tomorrow.

    Useful links:
    The Paleo Diet – http://thepaleodiet.com/
    The Primal Blueprint – https://www.primalblueprint.com/books/the-primal-blueprint-book/
    Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD, “Cholesterol and Violence: Is There a Connection?” – http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=711248
    Serotonin – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serotonin
    Tryptophan – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tryptophan
    Fructose malabsorption is associated with early signs of mental depression – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9620891
    Emotional eating – when food is your therapy – http://fatorwhat.com/emotional-eating/
    Limbic system – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limbic_system
    The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability – http://www.amazon.com/The-Vegetarian-Myth-Justice-Sustainability/dp/1604860804

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