Your Gut Bacteria May Be Affecting Your Mood

Your Gut Bacteria May Be Affecting Your Mood

Keeping your mood in check may take some effort. One day you might go through a steady glide of an even keel state-of-mind and other days you may experience a roller coaster mood response to your surroundings. Either way, your reactions may not simply be associated with your personality. 

You may accept your fluctuating mood as normal when in fact it could simply be linked to your gut. That’s right, the gut has been called the “second brain” and for good reason. This is where mood affecting neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) are produced. 

Before you blame your irritability on an outside force, find out if your gut bacteria may be affecting your mood. Then see if you can take more control through simple dietary and other changes to produce more of a good mood than bad. 

Processed Pain

The more processed foods you eat, chances are the more you will struggle with mood change. 

Psychology Today reported that,

“A study from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) identified specific ways that gut microbiota may interact with various brain regions to affect mood and behavior in healthy humans.” 

Some foods linked to depression, irritability, inflammation and more, all derived from the gut microbiome, are,

  • Canned foods
  • Sugar-coated dried fruits
  • Salted meat products
  • Soda
  • Sugary or savory packaged snack foods
  • Packaged breads
  • Buns and pastries
  • Fish or chicken nuggets
  • Instant noodle soups

Foods like these and many others could be one reason you may feel blue or even angry at times.

A Closer Look

It may seem innocent enough to indulge in what you probably know isn’t the best food choice. Sometimes you just need to get that, “sugar fix” or “salty craving”. Now, research shows some significant, negative reactions to these foods that could make you think twice before consuming them. Sure, it’s okay to indulge, but if you have something to do (business meeting, family get together, take a test, long drive, etc.) you may want to choose wisely to remain at the top of your game.

According to combined studies reported by PSYCOM, there are specific foods that could bring you down. Some of these include:

Refined carbohydrates – Research shows that eating too many refined carbohydrates [pretzels, white bread, and soda] is linked with depression. One study of women with no history of depression, substance abuse, or other forms of mental illness found that eating refined carbohydrates spiked blood sugar levels and increased the risk of depression. The good news here is that the same study also found that a diet rich in whole grains and produce actually lowers the risk of depression.

Sugar – A diet high in sugar can increase inflammation throughout the body and the brain, and recent research links brain inflammation to a higher risk of depression. One study found that brain inflammation was 30% higher in depressed patients. The roller coaster of high blood sugar followed by a crash might actually be more than just a quick shift in emotions; it might actually contribute to the brain inflammation connected to depression. Avoid the candy counter when you’re feeling blue and grab a healthy alternative when you get a sugar craving.

Processed foods – A British study of more than 3,000 people found that those who ate the most processed food faced an increased rate of depression, while those who ate more whole foods had a much lower risk of the disease.

Trans fats – Fried chicken, French fries, and other items doused in hydrogenated oils could send you spiraling into an angry depression. A study that evaluated the association between fatty acid intake or the use of culinary fats and depression in a Mediterranean population found a detrimental link between trans fatty acid intake and risk for depression. It’s natural to crave sweets, salty stuff, and fried items when you’re feeling down, but clearly research shows us that a healthy diet high in whole foods is better for your mood.

Change Your Choices

It may seem difficult to navigate the many choices you have when choosing your food. Advertising purposely confuses the consumer into thinking they will be purchasing healthy foods when in fact many contain the mood busting ingredients mentioned above. 

In a report by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine titled ‘Food and Mood: Eating Plants to Fight the Blues’ it was stated that,

“A diet high in protein and animal foods can limit serotonin production. A healthy approach for ideal levels of tryptophan in the brain is to focus on plant proteins along with generous amounts of complex carbohydrates, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes. With this pattern in place, there is sufficient serotonin produced to maintain feelings of well-being. This serves as yet another reason why a plant-based diet is ideal for mental health.”

Change your gut bacteria for the better by choosing ‘clean, live’ foods as opposed to foods that look good in colorful packaging with “healthy” advertising. This could make all the difference when controlling your mood. Add in good sleep habits and you could be on your way to a change that may have people saying, “Wow, it’s amazing how you’re always in a good mood!”