Today is an exciting topic: digestion and mood and how it is so interconnected and related.
So what does digestion have to do with mood?
I always get my clients to do a food and mood journal. They might not understand why they are doing it but it helps us to see how food makes us feel; physically and also emotionally. Most of the time the physical sensation is more noticeable but you can see if certain foods make you feel irritable, sluggish or foggy.
So why does mood connect with food?
We are looking at the connection between our digestive tract and our brain. They are viscerally connected via the vagus nerve and gut-brain axis. So whenever we are digesting food our intestines are connected to our brain and communicating information and vice versa. Another interesting thing is that a lot of our neurotransmitters are made in the gut.
So of course food and our digestive process will affect our mood. If you think about Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine medical systems they always look at the qualities of food and the constitution of a person to see how it connects. They look at the types of food that digest well for that person. If the food is good for that person’s constitution they will have good digestion. Their gut will function well, the ‘good’ bacteria are fed well and the microbiome will produce neurotransmitters. For example about 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut not the brain. Check out the study here.
If we’ve got everything functioning well we are going to have a better mood. Conversely, if we eat things that don’t digest well they will leave us feeling crappier; in a worse mood and irritable. This is because the gut bacteria will be reduced and the pathogenic bacteria will increase. The ‘bad’ bacteria produce compounds that give us foggy brain etc. via indigestion; putrefaction of protein, gas and bloating. These bad bacteria are producing metabolic waste and byproducts that are toxic. Those compounds then have a direct route to our brain.
Quality of Food + Digestion
So essentially we have to look at the quality of our food for our moods and the quality of our digestion as well. This is not isolated to food and digestion there are other factors (that I’ve shared and will continue to share about).
If our gut is connected to our brain and our brain to our gut, if we are in a bad mood that will create poor digestion. So we are in this cycle:
bad mood->bad digestion->bad mood
So, to help this we also need to tap into our (limiting) beliefs and how we are thinking as well. Also, our inner dialogue and emotional states.
So, lets say we create that crappy mood in our mind and then we suppress it. That emotion creates a physiological response in the body that becomes trapped or unprocessed. So this is another cycle that create stress. So we need to break this cycle.
What can we do?
Well, to start, the simple thing we can do is eat food that feels good (usually organic, unprocessed whole foods) and be as calm as possible when eating. There are other videos on my channel with more information on foods to eat and digestive practices, this video was more about the “how” 🙂
There is more to this!
This doesn’t mean that eating clean or eating the “best” is going to always create the best mood we also need to look under the surface as well at other factors.
I hope this video cleared up how digestion affects mood and of course this is simplified and there are more moving parts!
If you have any questions let me know in the comments. Do you notice the connection between food and mood?
To better moods,
Certified Holistic Nutritionist.