Brain Food: Unraveling The Intriguing Connection Between Your Plate And Your Mood

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Brain Food Unraveling The Intriguing Connection Between Your Plate And Your Mood

Your brain constantly communicates and connects with the rest of your body. It could be with your heart, intestines, or any other system in your body.

Nutrition plays a key role in our health, and proper nutrition directly impacts our mental health. Good health combines the optimal state of the body and mind, which operate harmoniously.

It’s an accepted fact that there is a strong connection between food and your mood. It is most likely why you feel happy when you get to eat one of your favorite foods.

There is a strong connection between people’s diets and mental health. Here’s what you learned about the intriguing connection between your plate and your mood.

Diets And Mental Health

The foods you eat do have an impact on your mental health. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating appetite and sleep, mediating moods, and inhibiting pain. There are even supplements for serotonin.

95% of this neurotransmitter is produced in your GI tract. The human GI tract is lined with millions of neurons, which doesn’t only help you digest food but also help control your emotions.

Good bacteria also influence these neurons, which play a vital role in your health. They function as a barrier against bad bacteria and toxins, limit inflammation, and help absorb nutrients from your food.

Good bacteria are responsible for what your system digests and absorbs and affects your energy level and mood.

Nutritional foods like fruits, vegetables, fish, unprocessed grains, dairy, and lean meat are part of a healthy diet. Refined foods, sugars, and processed foods cause more harm than good and are unnecessary for your body.

What Does Nutritional Psychiatry Mean?

Your brain requires a constant supply of ‘fuel’ to control different functions in your body all the time. The food you eat acts as this ‘fuel,’ and what it’s made of makes all the difference. 

Therefore, what you eat directly impacts the function of your brain and, ultimately, your mood. It’s what nutritional psychiatry is all about.

Eating high-quality foods with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals keeps the brain healthy and protects it from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs due to the free radicals produced when the human body uses oxygen, which can harm cells.

The field of nutritional psychology is so vast that there are connections between how you feel, how you behave, and what you eat and the types of bacteria in your digestive system.

The Science Behind Food And Mood

A strong link between diet and emotions creates a close relationship between your GI tract and brain. In this case, the GI tract is often called the “second brain.”

The GI tract consists of billions of bacteria that impact the production of chemical elements that carry signals from the digestive system to the brain.

Eating nutritious food promotes the growth of good bacteria that can increase the production of these chemicals. As a result, the brain receives positive messages clearly, which directly reflects on your mental state.

When the production of these chemicals is not optimal, you may experience mood swings.

Suga is one of the major culprits of inflammation and is responsible for feeding ‘bad bacteria’ in the gut. 

Sticking to a nutrient-rich diet ensures fewer mood swings and enhanced focusing ability. Diets consisting solely of whole, unprocessed foods can greatly help with anxiety and depression.

Following an unhealthy diet has been linked to an increased risk of dementia or even stroke.

On Your Plate And On With Life

Including good food in your diet may take time and effort, especially at the beginning. Experts suggest preparing a week’s worth of chopped vegetables and cooked beans early. It makes it easy to whip up a meal and avoid takeout.

You can also use frozen vegetables and fruits and 10-minute brown rice, whole-grain couscous or quinoa.

Making healthy food swaps is another great suggestion. You can swap white rice, bread, and pasta for whole-grain alternatives. It helps increase fiber, which helps in digestion.

It could take several weeks for you to feel a difference in your mood by shifting to a healthy diet. It depends on what kind of changes you make in your diet. Whatever it is, transformation doesn’t happen overnight.

Over time, you’ll feel the positive changes of a better diet in your body and mind. 

Visual Categories

The ventral visual stream is the section of the brain that identifies things, such as faces, bodies, places, words, and food images.

The ventral food component (VFC) is spread across two neuron clusters located on the sides of the fusiform face area (FFA).

It’s hard to imagine a way for the brain to identify the diversity of foods depending on sensory characteristics accurately. 

Food Vs. Non-Food

Work on predicting the responses of the VFC has identified images of food and non-food objects that look similar in appearance, such as bananas and crescent moons.

Research has identified that in some subjects, part of the brain responded more to processed foods such as burgers and pizzas than unprocessed foods like fruits.

It shows that people prefer to eat processed and unhealthy food that is more visually appealing than healthy food that may not look as appealing to them.

Foods That Help The Brain

Foods rich in antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, folate, and magnesium help boost brain functions. Here is a list of foods that help the brain.


Blueberries provide anthocyanins, a plant compound with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. 

Antioxidants work against inflammation and oxidative stress that directly contribute to neurodegenerative diseases.

Specific antioxidants in blueberries have been identified to accumulate in the brain, resulting in better communication between brain cells.


Broccoli consists of powerful plant components like antioxidants. It’s a vegetable with high vitamin K content, a fat-soluble vitamin crucial for producing sphingolipids, a fat type that’s closely packed into brain cells.

Broccoli contains several chemical compounds that may help protect the brain against damage.


Studies show that regular consumption of nuts is linked to a lower risk of cognitive disorders in aged people. It’s also linked with increased memory power.

Nuts contain several essential nutrients for brain health, including antioxidants, healthy fats, and vitamin E. Vitamin E also protects cells against damage from free radicals, aiding in slow mental decline.


Eggs provide several essential nutrients for brain health, including folate, vitamins B6 and B12, and choline. Choline is a vital nutrient that helps regulate memory and mood. Egg yolks are some of the most concentrated sources of choline.

Eggs are rich in vitamin B12 and folate, which have been linked to depression. 

Other Foods That Help The Brain

Here are a few other foods that are essential for brain health:

  • Fatty fish
  • Dark chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Whole grains
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Turmeric
  • Green tea
  • Oranges
  • Lean beef
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Beans
  • Yogurt
  • Seafood
  • Bone broth

Vitamins And Mineral Deficiencies

Vitamins and minerals deficiency could pave the way for nutritional diseases that impact the brain. Low levels of vitamin B12 or niacin can lead to pellagra, which is a disease that is a precursor to dementia.

Iodine is another essential nutrient for brain health. It’s a vital building block for thyroid hormones, which are vital for appetite, sleep, and metabolism.

Low iodine levels in the body lead to decreased production of iodine, which could impair these essential processes.

Ketogenic Diet For Epilepsy

A ketogenic diet consists of a low-carbohydrate intake of 80% to 90% of calories from fat.

Carbohydrates are generally the most preferred energy source for the human body. Following a ketogenic diet, cells get fuel by breaking fats into ketones.

Utilizing ketones as an energy source leads to a significant shift in physiology and metabolism. It also impacts the hormone level circulating in the body and the neurotransmitters that the brain produces.

These characteristics of the ketogenic diet are believed to be able to decrease the possibility of having seizures.

Another benefit of achieving a ketogenic state is its positive impact on a person’s cognitive function and mood.

Saturated Fats, Ultra Processed Foods, And Sugar

Saturated fats and refined sugars are typically found in ultra-processed foods. They generally promote eating by desensitizing the brain to the hormone signals related to appetite control and regulating satiety.

Alteration at this sensory level could make you perceive food as less sweet. Therefore, it leads to increased cravings for more sugary and fatty foods. 

What Other Factors Impact Mental Health?

Apart from food, many other factors impact mental health. One of the greatest comedians, Steve Martin, explains a vital point: creativity is transformative power on mental health.

Steve is a renowned comedian who has made people laugh since the 1960s. He is also an actor, performer, and musician who contributed to stand-up and film.

His highly acclaimed MasterClass course gives you adequate knowledge of real-world comedy and techniques to improve your skills in this area. You’ll learn how to write jokes, create characters, craft comedic acts, and other related areas.

Steve emphasizes how arts and creativity hold therapeutic value and can significantly impact mental health. It paves the way for expressing yourself, discovering your true self, and focusing on positivity. 

It also helps you connect with others and build resilience, ultimately opening doors to personal development.


There is a strong link between the brain and the food you eat. What you eat impacts your mood as it could make you feel happy or down.

Certain foods like leafy green vegetables, blueberries, eggs, nuts, and dark chocolate aid the brain’s functions. The brain requires nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, choline, and folate, for healthy function.

On the other hand, ultra-processed foods, saturated fats, and refined sugar contribute negatively to brain health. They could make you crave more unhealthy food options.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Part Of The Brain Features A Connection Between Emotions And Food?

The amygdala is the primary area in the central nervous system responsible for regulating appetite with response to feelings and emotions.

What Is The Connection Between Food, The Brain, And Feelings?

Unhealthy eating habits can cause mood swings. It is often due to nutritional imbalances and blood sugar fluctuations. Your body cannot function well without a fixed fuel source from the foods you consume.

How Does The Food You Eat Affect Your Mood?

Sticking to a diet rich in nutrients results in fewer mood swings and an enhanced ability to focus. It increases the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain that can stabilize your mood.

About the Author

Jared Levenson is a former binge eating wrestler turned Zen Buddhist Monk, Internal Family Systems counselor and nutrition wellness coach. He's helped hundreds of people through universal meal principles and internal family systems to make peace with food, stop binge eating, and find true health and wholeness.


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