The Link Between Food and Mood Lies in the GutAngelique Laaks
“Food, glorious food,” begin the orphans in chorus at a performance of Oliver Twist by Dickens. But the next words coming out of their mouths make any health-aware person shudder; “Hot sausage and mustard”, they croon. “While we’re in the mood,” they add, “cold jelly and custard…”. And there it is – thought intent on rhyme, an inadvertent connection is made between food and mood!
Of course, the state in which orphans and the poor often find themselves has their malnourished systems crying for energy and the fastest route for that in emergencies might well be jelly and custard. It’s the sugar-high they’re looking for. It’s the ‘feel good’ serotonin they sorely lack that drives their ardent cries.
But do we have an excuse? Let’s delve into some nutritional psychiatry so we can make informed choices for ourselves and our families.
Having The Guts To Prevent Mood-altering Food Going in
Oliver Twist’s orphan boys got another thing right besides food and mood. After listing their desired menu of peas, pudding and saveloys,” they ask, “what next is the question?” And the answer is? “Rich gentlemen have it boys; in-di-gestion”! How spot-on is that? The fact is that 95% of our serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that mediates mood, regulates sleep and dulls pain, is manufactured in our gastrointestinal tract aka the gut.
That food and mood meet in the gut is a powerful reason to make drastic changes to preserve our sanity. Here’s the inside scoop. Our colons are a source of psychoactive chemicals, which obviously affect our state of mind and our mood. So, we are talking about what we eat as food, but we’re also needing to understand what happens to that food that so adversely affects our moods.
Our Eastern cousins are way ahead of any of us Westerners in this area.
The Mediterranean diet too, is better than the sugary, refined, fast foods that we sometimes eat. The food and mood correlation is well supported by researchers who tell us that the gut is like a second ‘brain’ – not that we can rely on gut-feel to do our sums, but it is the gut that delivers a blow-by-blow account to the brain of what we swallow and when. The gut sends out enzymes to break everything down. Getting nutrients up into the blood – providing there are any, is also directed from the gut.
But then it needs to deal with what’s left – a morass of useless, nutrition-less, fibreless gunk. This doesn’t spell good for our mood when food ends up as the colonic traffic jam, they call constipation. Not a pleasant subject but a tell-tale one, nonetheless. The toxic build-up of decay, fermentation and putrification literally poison the brain and nervous system, which results in depression, melancholy, irritableness and agitation.
It poisons the heart which becomes weak and listless. It poisons the lungs, which results in halitosis (foul breath). It poisons the digestive system causing gas pain, bloating and belching – anything sounding familiar yet?
As research mounts to prove the correlation between food and mood, best we start figuring better ways of supporting our mental well-being as well as our physical health.
The last thing we need is neurocognitive impairment just because we made poor food choices. Plenty of studies show that those who eat a balanced diet of fresh fruits and vegetables have lower rates of mental illness, besides other health benefits.
It is not without foundation that people are becoming more incompetent and are plagued by mental and personality disorders in countries where refined foods dominate. When our bodies are fuelled by clean food, as close to nature as possible, cravings for chocolate and fast foods drops away, our skins glow, blemishes are a thing of the past and our moods stabilize with healthy brain function.
Let’s have a heart and not put out colons through such a daily life and death struggle because we ignored the food and mood factor.
We firmly believe that we are – quite literally – what we eat. But if you don’t know where to start then please feel free to contact Yvonne on 07968 844829 who will be able to assist you in your journey to wellness.
In the meantime, why not take a look at Yvonne’s 30-day nutrition guide which helps to make good food choices easy.