Mood Changes & Food Print

Certain foods are known to affect perceptions of pain, elation, sleep and hallucinations, e.g. coca leaf, opium poppies, certain mushrooms and alcohol. The amount of nutmeg required for hallucinations is 30g. The fraction of a gram used in a pot of food is far from the danger level and is permitted. Massive quantities of cinnamon, saffron, types of lettuce, etc can cause similar harmful effects. Many other daily foods affect moods and mental states in complex manners.

Calming chemicals
Amino acids are the building blocks of food you eat. The brain uses these acids to produce chemicals known as neurotransmitters. Studies indicate that food can affect the manufacture and release of neurotransmitters and thus your mood and behaviour. This is a complex relationship interacting with several other factors.

The amino acid Tryptophan is a component of a soothing neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin is needed for normal sleep and may control certain forms of depression. Tryptophan is found in protein-rich foods such as meat, milk and eggs.

Carbohydrates (sugars and starch) may increase serotonin, helping a person to feel calm and drowsy.

Chocolate appears to act as an anti-depressant. Cocoa contains a chemical, phenylethylamine, which also occurs naturally in the brain. It is believed to be released when one is emotionally aroused. Chocolate also contains stimulants that increase alertness. These are theobromine and caffeine.

B Vitamins
Deficiency in B vitamins can alter one’s mood. Beans, brown rice, egg yolk, fish, nuts, soya beans, wholegrain cereals, dairy, poultry and brewer’s yeast are rich sources of B vitamins. B12 is mainly sourced from animal products and can be supplemented with foods fortified with B12, such as soya milk, supplements and breakfast cereals. B6 is involved in the breakdown of oestrogen in the liver. A deficiency can lead to feelings of anxiety. B6 supplements, yeast extract, wheat germ, liver and bananas, may help relieve anxiety of women during premenstrual syndrome.   

Irregular eating patterns can cause mood swings.  

Long periods without food (fasting) reduces glucose levels. The body then breaks down fat produces ketones as an alternative fuel. This process can cause feelings of elation and wakefulness.

Low blood sugar levels may induce irritation in some people when they awake. Having carbohydrate first thing in the morning may be of assistance. Conversely some people may be consuming excessive amounts of carbohydrates. Their blood sugar levels drop below normal due to the body secreting to much insulin. They may then become irritable.

Harms of Alcohol
Alcoholics are prone to B12 and thiamine deficiency. Alcohol is not a stimulant. It is a depressant. It can slow brain-cell function and reduce powers of attention.


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