By Christine Ruggeri
Did you know that there are mood-boosting foods? We often think about the way that foods benefit or hinder our physical health, but there’s also a strong relationship between what we eat and how we feel mentally.
In turns out it's important to get enough of the right kinds of foods for a good mood. If you need an extra pick-me-up, supplements that support a positive outlook or mindset can also come in handy. They support a healthy response to stress, while boosting energy levels and mental clarity.
Is There a Connection Between Your Moods and Certain Foods?
There’s a direct link between what we eat and how we feel, and in many cases, low mood can make you reach for the foods that may only exacerbate your symptoms.
It’s common to search for a high carbohydrate food that will provide fuel for the body when you’re feeling down in the dumps, but the blood sugar fluctuations that follow can leave you feeling tired, brain fogged and irritated. Ultra-processed packaged foods are one example of what might taste good in the moment, but can impact your mood shortly after consumption.
Mood-boosting foods are those that provide a range of nutrients that help the body to produce “feel good” chemicals or “happy hormones.” These foods can also be used as fuel, without causing drastic blood sugar changes, and they support a healthy gut, which we know can impact your mood.
One recent study indicates that poor nutrition is a risk factor for low mood and improving your diet may help to bolster your overall mood. According to the study, certain foods or dietary patterns have an effect on blood sugar levels, immune activation and the gut microbiome — all factors that may play a role in the relationship between food and mood.
10 Foods that Help Boost Your Mood
Avocados contain mood-boosting healthy fats that support healthy hormone balance and improve satiety, making you content and energized for hours after a meal. The fatty acids in avocado play a role in cognitive processes and impact neurotransmitter levels.
2. Wild-Caught Salmon
Wild-caught salmon and other oily fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which promote healthy cognitive function and a healthy response to oxidative stress in the body. Wild fish are also rich in protein, providing amino acids that the body uses to create neurotransmitters. These chemical messengers in the brain can have a positive influence on your mood and energy levels.
3. Dark Chocolate
Good quality dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and mood-lifting compounds, including theobromine and phenylethylamine. The key to eating dark chocolate for a better mood is to have a small piece that’s 70 percent cocoa or higher every day or a few times per week.
Berries, including blueberries, strawberries and raspberries, are rich in nutrients that are important for healthy cognitive processes. They include vitamin C and other antioxidants, folate and copper, among other mood-boosting vitamins and minerals.
Like many other mood-boosting foods, walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, plus manganese, copper and magnesium. These nutrients help maintain healthy brain function, while providing a boost of energy.
Bananas provide complex carbohydrates and electrolytes, fueling the brain and body with energy. They also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that has calming properties and boosts the production of serotonin, which is known as the happy chemical.
7. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are loaded with nutrients, including folate, magnesium, vitamin C and vitamin K. These vitamins and minerals support a healthy response to inflammation and work as antioxidants that fight free radical damage in the body.
Some of the best leafy greens for mood are kale, spinach, arugula, chard, bok choy and mustard greens.
Oatmeal and other whole grains, including oats, quinoa and buckwheat, are rich in fiber and promote a healthy gut. The dietary fiber and micronutrients in oatmeal also help to promote a healthy response to inflammation, support brain processes and keep the body energized for hours after eating.
Cage-free organic eggs are rich in choline and vitamin B12, two nutrients that help support healthy brain function. Eggs also contain protein, which provides amino acids that help with neurotransmitter function.
10. Olive Oil
Olive oil is considered a source of one of the healthiest fats around, which is because of its monounsaturated fatty acid content. These fats have neuroprotective capabilities and help to support healthy brain processes.
6 Supplements that Support a Positive Outlook
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids promote healthy cognitive function and a healthy response to oxidative stress, which can impact your mindset and energy levels.
Ancient Omegas Whole Body provides 1,000 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, including ALA, DHA, ETA and EPA — all types of fatty acids important for health. Ancient Nutrition’s omega formula also features antioxidants and botanicals, including lemon peel oil and black pepper fruit to support absorption. To use, take three softgels daily with a glass of water.
Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic super herb that helps support healthy cognitive function and support a healthy response to stress. It can also promote a positive mindset, which is why it’s one of the main ingredients in Ancient Nutrition’s Brain + Mood Capsules, which also include lion’s mane. To use, take two capsules daily at any time during the day.
3. SBO Probiotics
We know that the health of the gut plays a role in our mindset, so it makes sense to work on maintaining healthy gut microflora with probiotic supplements.
Our SBO Probiotics Mental Clarity Capsules contain clinically studied SBO probiotics that can survive and thrive in harsh environments, like the gut. This formula also features superfood ingredients like ashwagandha and functional mushrooms to promote a positive mindset, mental clarity, concentration and healthy energy levels.
To use, take one capsule per day with water. These probiotics are great when you wake up in the morning or right before bed.
Magnesium is responsible for hundreds of reactions within the body, and it supports a positive outlook and a sense of calmness.
Ancient Nutrition’s Magnesium Capsules feature organic enzyme-activated magnesium, probiotic-fermented vitamin D and superfood ingredients including organic turmeric root extract and organic rhodiola root extract. To use, take three capsules daily and be consistent with timing.
5. Functional Mushrooms
Functional mushrooms help to promote healthy energy and stamina, while promoting mental clarity, concentration and a healthy response to stress. They can be found in many forms, including powders and capsules.
Ancient Nutrition offers several formulas containing functional mushrooms, including our Cordyceps Energy and Endurance Tablets and Lion’s Mane Mental Clarity and Concentration Tablets. With these supplements, the most important thing is consistency. Pick a time during the day to take 1–2 tablets and make that part of your daily ritual.
Matcha is known for its antioxidants, relaxing amino acids (like L-theanine) and caffeine content. It’s a mindset-boosting product that supports mental clarity and a healthy response to stress.
At Ancient Nutrition, we combine our Superfood Matcha powder with positive outlook–promoting superfood ingredients like ashwagandha, chaga mushroom and reishi mushroom. To use, add one scoop to hot water or nut milk for an instant matcha latte.
As always, you should consult your healthcare professional prior to beginning any new dietary or lifestyle regimen, including dietary supplementation.
Christine Ruggeri is a writer and nutrition counselor based in New York. She's worked for Ancient Nutrition and the Dr. Axe team for five years. She has a degree in Education with a concentration in English from Iona College, and received her health coach certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.