Connection between food and mood

Although a low-carbohydrate diet (high-protein diet) can be an effective dietary approach to weight loss, it has an effect on psychological functions, including mood and cognition that might be negative.

Besides being something known among people, I can feel it personally when dealing with people who have changed their balanced diet (50% carbs, 25 % protein, and 25 % fat) to a pure protein one. Some signs include:

  • They are always stressed and easily bad-tempered.
  •  You can see the pre-menstrual carbohydrate cravings, experienced by 70% of women and the usual binging of those who are on high-protein diets for more than 2 weeks.

This is mainly because carbohydrates make people feel relaxed, focused, and always in a good mood.

Here is an explanation of the short mechanism:

After consumption of a carbohydrate-rich meal, the hormone insulin is secreted. Insulin lowers the blood levels of most amino acids (the building blocks of protein), except for tryptophan (a precursor to serotonin). When there is a larger proportion of tryptophan, it enters the brain at a higher rate, thus boosting serotonin production.

Protein-rich food has been found to prevent serotonin production. Serotonin, this neurotransmitter, is the one responsible for elevating our mood. That is why, we feel sleepy, relaxed and satisfied after a rich carbohydrate meal.

If you go back to the food guide pyramid, you can see that the base (starch and bread) provides the highest food consumption. So a well-balanced and varied diet of 50% carbohydrates is the best dietary approach to take.

Another benefit of carbohydrates is their impact on wakefulness. High-carbs breakfast for example improves mental acuity, decreases fatigue, and makes you generally feel positive about life.

You need to be energetic, healthy and happy even while on a diet.

The best choices of carbohydrate foods are always those that are high in fiber to prevent constipation. So go for whole grain breads, bran flakes, whole fruits, brown rice and pasta.

And don’t forget to limit fat consumption.  Choose the meals containing unsaturated fat rather than fried fatty meals. Fatty foods make you feel tired and cause abdominal discomfort.

Top foods that boost your mood

Avocado: helps in keeping the receptors in your brain sensitive to serotonin.

Pineapple: The manganese and thiamin in pineapple help to relax and increase concentration.

Oatmeal: Triggers the release of serotonin, a hormone that relaxes you.

Whole grains: Improve alertness, concentration and memory.

Chocolate: a stimulant that triggers the release of serotonin and endorphins.

And the end, don’t go for any type of diet without asking an expert. A diet has to be tailored for a person’s specific body type and depends on the health case.

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