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Can diet and food choices improve your mood?

What you eat really affects your mood. If you fill your body with the right substances, you will be rewarded for it in the form of a clear mind and a happy smile. See how you can get in a good mood with a healthy diet and by choosing the right food!

Are slimmer people happier?

Do you often come across the opinion that slimmer and more physically fit people are happier? You may be surprised that this is not a myth, and this statement is indeed true. People who choose a healthy and balanced diet are more resistant to diseases, reduce the risk of depression, and recover more quickly from illness and injury. They also support better sleep and are better able to cope with stress. In addition, if people feel happier, they tend to choose healthier food alternatives. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Are slimmer people happier?

On the contrary, overweight and obese people often suffer from a huge psychological problem, which is depression. They often feel tired, weak, dissatisfied with their figure, and this leads to depression or anxiety. Many times, therefore, they resort to unhealthy eating, which, however, is not filled by their physical but emotional hunger. They are most often inclined to unhealthy or high-calorie foods and sweets in a stressful situation. Yet, they have almost no nutritional value, so they do not contain any substances that promote a positive mood. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

You can read more about emotional eating and the frequent causes of overeating or choosing inappropriate foods in our article Why do we eat more in quarantine?.

The brain as a trigger for a good mood

To fully understand how certain foods can improve your mood, you need to find out what’s going on in your brain. It controls every single organ, hormone and even mood. The brain uses neurotransmitters to communicate with the body, which sent commands such as heart beating or breathing. A similar process occurs when determining good mood.

The brain as a trigger for a good mood

Two types of neurotransmitters are responsible for your moods: inhibitory and excitatory. Excitatory neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine, actively stimulate the body and mind. However, they are more easily depleted from the body, which can ultimately lead to feelings of unhappiness. Inhibitory neurotransmitters such as serotonin have a calming effect on the mind and partially eliminate the effects of excitatory neurotransmitters. So you will reach the ideal mood if there is a balance between these two types of neurotransmitters.

However, mood-affecting neurotransmitters do not just form the brain. Like all processes in the body, the brain needs food for them. Foods that help produce the hormone of “happiness” – serotonin include spinach, turkey, and bananas. Spinach contains high concentrations of folate and vitamin B, which are important in the production of serotonin. Bananas and turkey meat, in turn, contain a lot of tryptophan, an amino acid that is converted to serotonin in the brain.

With healthy diet to a good mood

Another important neurotransmitter that helps regulate and stabilise a good mood is gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is produced during the Krebs cycle, a physiological process in which nutrients are converted into the energy essential for cellular use. However, you will not find gamma-aminobutyric acid in any food, but a substance it contains to a large extent. Its main building block is the amino acid l-glutamine. It can be found in pork or beef or various types of seeds. [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]

Vitamins, minerals and beneficial substances supporting good mood

Not only the neurotransmitters but also the nutrients you receive are responsible for improving your mood. You should pay particular attention to the optimal supplementation of certain vitamins, minerals and beneficial substances that have a positive effect on the body’s health. [11] [12]


Several studies declare that people suffering from depression have low levels of magnesium. This is because magnesium has been shown to help increase amitriptyline and sertraline, which act as antidepressants. Magnesium supplementation is not difficult at all. You can easily find it in foods such as bananas, leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, avocados and hot chocolate. In addition, you can easily supplement it, for example, with refreshing effervescent tablets. [13]

Magnesium improves mood


Although zinc does not have an antidepressant effect in itself, it increases the effectiveness of the antidepressant components of other foods and supplements. This fact was confirmed by a study investigating the mood-enhancing effects of zinc in people suffering from clinical depression. In combination with antidepressant supplementation, patients achieved a significant improvement in mood. You can find zinc in almost all kinds of meat, eggs, legumes or oysters. [13]

Vitamin D

It’s no secret that many people lose their good mood during the winter or dry season. This is also greatly influenced by the low dose of sunlight, which produces vitamin D on contact with human skin. It plays an important role in several cognitive processes, and the mood is no exception. To avoid the unpleasant autumn depression, you should ensure that your body has enough of it. You can achieve this with the right supplementation, but you will also find vitamin D in foods such as fish, nuts or mushrooms. However, it is recommended that you take approximately 2000 IU of vitamin D daily.

Vitamin D improves mood


Iron deficiency in the body is directly associated with problems with sleep or sleep. Women suffer from this problem in particular during menstruation when iron stores are flushed out of their bodies along with the blood. Insufficient or unsatisfactory sleep is often associated with a bad mood. Besides, the lack of iron in the blood also causes restless legs syndrome, in which people feel that they have to move their legs regularly. This syndrome also makes it difficult to fall asleep and induces an unpleasant mood during the day. Iron-rich foods include liver, nuts, hot chocolate, beef and lamb, beans, whole grains, and dark leafy vegetables.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in brain health. Therefore, it is not surprising that they are particularly beneficial in terms of improving symptoms of depression, cognitive function and overall mood. You can easily find them in fatty fish such as mackerel, salmon or herring. They are also found in nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, chia seeds or flax seeds. However, supplementation with fish oil, which is very rich in several types of healthy fats, proved to be the best. Seaweed oil can also be an excellent alternative for vegetarians or vegans. [13]

Omega-3 improves mood

Vitamin E

Similarly, as with iron, vitamin E deficiency causes restless legs syndrome. Its regular replenishment thus eliminates this unpleasant problem and thus facilitates falling asleep. Studies have also shown that it can help alleviate hot flashes and night sweats in menopausal women, improving their sleep quality. It is found in many foods, including dark leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish and fruits.

B vitamins

Research suggests that adequate levels of vitamins B3, B5, B6, B9 and B12 regulate the level of tryptophan in the body, helping it to produce serotonin and melatonin to ensure good sleep and mood. You can easily supplement them with fruits and vegetables, nuts or seeds, but it is best to supplement them with the B-complex product. This will ensure optimal intake of all types of B vitamins.

Healthy sleep = good mood

As we mentioned above, sleep itself is often responsible for a good mood. If you do not have enough of it or its quality is very low, it can have a negative effect on you. Not only a bad mood but also depression, feelings of anxiety or chronic stress can bother you. Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem too! Try to take the following substances and ensure an undisturbed and quality sleep.

Healthy sleep = good mood


Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is needed for the normal growth of infants and nitrogen balance in adults. However, the body primarily uses it to produce niacin, melatonin and serotonin. In particular, the last 2 mentioned substances are extremely important for inducing good sleep. Therefore, if you want to be in a good mood, you should consider intaking more tryptophan, as the body cannot make it on its own. You can find it in foods such as turkey, cheese, seeds, nuts, fish and oats. [14] [15]


Valeriana is a medicinal herb whose root is used to make a medicinal extract. The substances contained in the root help with problems with sleep, anxiety or mental stress. These include valeric acid, isovaleric acid and various antioxidants. It acquires particularly exceptional properties when interacting with GABA. Valeric acid has been found to inhibit the degradation of GABA in the brain, leading to feelings of peace and tranquillity. [16]


Chamomile (Matricaria recutita or Chamomilla Recutita) is a herb that has been used in medicine for centuries for its relaxing and calming effect. It is most often given in the form of tea or other leached extract. Its calming effects can be attributed to an antioxidant called apigenin, which binds to specific receptors in the brain. These can reduce feelings of anxiety or initiate sleep. [17]

Chamomile has calming effect


L-theanine is an amino acid that is naturally found in tea trees and has been used for centuries to make green and black tea. However, what makes this amino acid exceptional is its beneficial effects in relieving anxiety and inducing a sense of well-being. It is these factors that are important for initiating quality sleep. One study showed that 200 mg of theanine at bedtime improved sleep quality without causing drowsiness during the day. [18]


Melatonin, a hormone naturally produced in the body, helps determine regular and healthy sleep and wake cycles. Its levels usually rise just in the evening, remain high during the night and fall early in the morning. Melatonin is found in meat, cereals, fruits and vegetables. It is also available as a nutritional supplement that is used to treat jet lag and insomnia. If you want to know even more about this hormone, don’t hesitate to read our article Melatonin – does melatonin really improve sleep and help you fall asleep?.

Adaptogens for stress reduction

Stress is considered to be the most significant cause of bad mood. It can negatively affect several processes in the body and cause unpleasant health problems. Its elimination is therefore really important. Supplementing adaptogenic components can also help you in this, which will turn one joy with stress, among the most available extract from Pink Stonecrop and Ashwagandha. A daily dose of 50 mg of Rhodiola Rosea is effective in combating daily fatigue and stress. Ashwagandha supplementation at 300 to 500 mg per day had a similar effect. It is recommended for morning consumption as a preventive preparation for a stressful day. You can read more about this herb in the article Ashwagandha – an inconspicuous herb that can do miracles. [13]

Aswagandha and rhodiola rosea reduce stress

Thus, it is indeed evident that certain substances and food containing them have a strong effect on mood regulation. Therefore, it may seem that eating only foods full of nutrients that affect brain chemistry is the best way to achieve a good mood. Of course, everything needs to be taken in moderation, so your diet should also consist of a healthy balance of food to achieve a good mood. Therefore, include food that supports a good mood in your diet, but also don’t forget about the food you like. Eating well is one of the most critical factors that will make you happy.

Foods that will improve your mood

  • fish
  • dark chocolate
  • fermented foods
  • bananas
  • oats
  • nuts and seeds
  • legumes
  • berries
  • fruit and vegetable (several types)
  • leafy vegetable [19]

The best nutritional supplements to improve mood

Are you trying to eat healthily? Which food surely improves your mood? Share your opinion in the comments and don’t forget to share the article with your friends.


[1] Am I happier because I’m thinner, or thinner because I’m happier? – https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/dec/11/body-positivity-thinner-euphoria-guilt

[2] Daniel J. DeNoon – Obesity Linked to Mood Disorders – https://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20060705/obesity-linked-to-mood-disorders

[3] Struggling with emotional eating? – https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/struggling-with-emotional-eating

[4] Josh Clark – Can food make people happy? – https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/food-happiness.html

[5] Deborah R. Wahl, Karoline Villinger, Laura M. König, Katrin Ziesemer, Harald T. Schupp – Healthy food choices are happy food choices: Evidence from a real life sample using smartphone based assessments – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5719018/

[6] Valerie Balandra ARNP, BC – Can a Neurotransmitter Imbalance be Causing Your Mood Problems? – https://www.integrativepsychiatry.net/can-a-neurotransmitter-imbalance-be-causing-your-mood-problems/

[7] Four Neurotransmitters that Affect Your Mood – https://www.renewyouth.com/four-neurotransmitters-that-affect-your-mood/

[8] Dariush DFARHUD, Maryam MALMIR, and Mohammad KHANAHMADI – Happiness & Health: The Biological Factors- Systematic Review Article – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4449495/

[9] What are neurotransmitters? – https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326649

[10] Today – How eating right can make you happy – https://www.today.com/popculture/how-eating-right-can-make-you-happy-wbna34417749

[11] Jen Sinrich – 10 Vitamins for Depression That Could Boost Your Mood – https://www.thehealthy.com/mental-health/vitamins-for-depression-boost-your-mood/

[12] Daniel B. Block, MD – Depression and Your Diet – https://www.verywellmind.com/vitamin-for-depression-1065211

[13] Kamal patel – How eating better can make you happier – https://examine.com/nutrition/how-eating-better-can-make-you-happier/

[14] L-tryptophan – https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-326/l-tryptophan

[15] E Hartmann – Effects of L-tryptophan on sleepiness and on sleep – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6764927/

[16] Franziska Spritzler – How Valerian Root Helps You Relax and Sleep Better – https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/valerian-root

[17] Grant Currin – Does Drinking Chamomile Tea Really Help People Fall Asleep? – https://www.livescience.com/chamomile-tea-sleep.html

[18] Connie Packer – L THEANINE BENEFITS COGNITION AND SLEEP – https://thrivous.com/blogs/views/l-theanine-benefits-cognition-and-sleep

[19] Katey Davidson, MScFN, RD – 9 Healthy Foods That Lift Your Mood – https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mood-food