Food and Your Mood

Why does food have an impact on how we feel?

Our bodies are home to chemical messengers called neurotransmitters, whose job is to send signals from one cell to another to cause an action. These powerful chemical messengers regulate the way we think, feel, and act.

Serotonin is an example of one of these chemical messengers. Its job is to help regulate our appetite, pain, sleep, and the way we feel. Serotonin is a key player in when it comes to our mood and gut, because the majority of this chemical messenger (about 90-95%) is produced in our gastrointestinal tract (GI).

Did you know that our GI tract includes more than just our stomach? It also includes our mouth, throat, esophagus, small & large intestine, rectum, and anus.

Knowing that serotonin is produced here, it makes sense that the foods we eat and the nutrients that our body has to process as a result, can affect the way we feel.

Foods to reduce or limit

Foods with chemical additives, flavor enhancers, and food coloring. Examples of these include canned foods, packaged snack foods, fruits in syrup

Processed foods that contain substances like sugar and starch which have been extracted from food. Examples include soda, sugary drinks, cereals, instant noodle soups, cakes, biscuits, and pastries

Examples of processed foods are canned foods, sugar-coated dried fruits, and salted meat products. Some examples of ultra-processed foods are soda, sugary or savory packaged snack foods, packaged breads, buns and pastries, fish or chicken nuggets, and instant noodle soups.

Food for a good mood

So, what premium fuel should you be consuming for a healthy mind and body?

  • Whole foods or foods that have been minimally processed and have healthy ingredients. Examples include fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors.
  • Fiber or fibrous foods helps your body absorb glucose (food sugars) at a slower rate, which helps avoid a spike and eventual crash in glucose. These spikes and crashes can lead to inflammation. Examples of fiber-rich foods also include fruits, vegetables, and nutritious carbs like beans and grains.
  • Antioxidants are known for their powerful ability to fight inflammation. Examples of antioxidant rich foods include berries, leafy greens, turmeric, salmon, and chia seeds.
  • Folate helps with dopamine production and can also be found in leafy greens and beans like lentils.
  • Vitamin D goes hand in hand with the production of serotonin. The best way to increase your Vitamin D level is to enjoy some sunlight.
  • Magnesium can be depleted by mental or physical stress, to replenish your stores, consider consuming leafy greens, beans, bananas, and nuts like almonds and cashews.

Setup for success

If you’re wanting to incorporate more nutritionally dense foods in your diet for physical and mental health, consider starting off with small food swaps to get yourself going. Instead of going for a bag of chips as a snack between meals, consider an on-the-go fruit like bananas or berries. For optimal body function, make sure you’re staying hydrated-– especially when spending time outside, or when moving your body.

Take the time to read your food labels, typically the fewer ingredients the better. If you’re having trouble pronouncing the ingredients when reading the label, chances are, its highly processed.

Choose food from the produce/fresh section to avoid highly processed foods.

Cook at home more, this allows you to control what ingredients you’re including, and know exactly what went into your meal.

Our goal at South Florida Psychiatry is to provide a holistic approach and work with you to achieve optimal mental, emotional, and physical health.

For expert treatment and an individualized plan that is centered around your needs, we invite you to contact our office in Town Center One in Miami, Florida, to schedule a consultation.


We accept most insurance providers. If you have specific questions regarding your coverage, please contact us for additional information.



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