Food and mood
Cosuming food can be a pleasurable thing - we enjoy feasting on the mix of tastes and textures and it stops us feeling hungry too. Of course, food also gives us energy and the vitamins and minerals that our body needs. It's no wonder we spend so much time preparing and eating food. But what many of us don't consider is how our emotions are affected by what we put into our bellies.
For me, it's the unhealthy foods that put a smile on my face - chocolate, cakes and ice cream - well, I do have a sweet tooth! It might seem obvious that food that's bad for our waistline, usually makes us happy, at least in the short term. Most of us get this feeling when we use food as a quick pick-me-up. But dieticians tell us that eating bad food long term, not only makes us put on weight but can lead to other health conditions such as diabetes, and it can also affect our mental state and bring on depression.
The link between our mind and food has been looked at by scientists.They've recently found that it's the bacteria in our gut that affects our mood. It's thought we have 39 trillion of these simple, small organisms in our body. Researchers at McMaster University in Canada and University College Cork in Ireland, have found that certain 'good' bacteria help reduce anxiety in mice. And researchers at Kyushu University also found that germs help reduce stress and anxiety in mice. Experts believe that, for us humans, this means food with 'good' bacteria can improve the way we feel.
Many food products are claiming to be high in this 'good' bacteria and some of the best types are homemade fermented food like miso soup, yoghurt and sauerkraut. This really makes me think twice about what I eat - maybe I should change my diet to perk me up! Doctor Michael Mosley would agree. He's been looking into this for the BBC and says the best food to cheer us up is in a "Mediterranean diet. Olive oil; oily fish, full of omega 3, which is really good for the brain; whole grains; lots of fruits and vegetables. Sugar: terrible for you!"
So maybe it's time to lay off the fatty and sugary things. Eating healthily may seem simple, even if the science behind it is complex. It's not rocket science but this is further evidence for the saying 'we are what we eat' - the person we are is determined by the food we eat. There are other factors that can change our mood but it seems we have some ability to improve how we feel by controlling what we put on our plate. Does your diet affect your mood?
a smile on one's face
perk somebody up
we are what we eat'