Food and Mental Health- Mosadi Brown, RD.

Food, Nutrition and Mental Health

Did you know that there is a link between food and nutrients and your mood? Let’s break it down to spotlight some key nutrients and their food sources to aid in improved mood and overall mental health.

  • Tryptophan - tryptophan is an essential amino acid (meaning that we have to get it from food) that impacts sleep. Tryptophan is also needed to produce serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical that is produced by the nervous system that increases feelings of happiness and wellbeing.

  • Food sources of tryptophan - tryptophan is typically found in protein-rich foods such as: oats, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, chickpeas, sesame seeds, red meat, and buckwheat. For you chocolate lovers - you'll be happy to know that chocolate is rich in tryptophan!

  • Omega 3 Fats - are an essential fatty acid - like tryptophan, you have to get them from food. Omega 3 fats (particularly DHA and EPA - two types of omega 3s found in marine sources) have anti-inflammatory properties which reduce inflammation in the brain. Diets that are low in omega 3 fats are associated with higher risk of depression. 

    • Food sources of omega 3 fats include - salmon, mackerel, cold water tuna, herring, sardines, and algae. 

  • Selenium - is a mineral that when deficient in the diet is associated with depression and anxiety. 

    • Food sources of selenium include meat, fish, poultry, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and brazil nuts.

  • B Vitamins - particularly thiamin, riboflavin, and cobalamin (B12), as well as folate are important for the health of your nervous system and red blood cells. These B vitamins are associated with reduced risk of irritability and depression.

    • Food sources of B vitamins include beans, lentils, fortified grains such as pasta and cereal, potatoes.

  • Iron - is a mineral in the body that has many functions. Iron is commonly known for eliminating anemia when there are adequate amounts in your body. Iron is also involved in the production of serotonin and dopamine. These two chemicals (also known as neurotransmitters) are produced by the brain and nervous system. Serotonin and dopamine are important for regulating mood and making us feel happy overall. Low levels of these neurotransmitters are associated with depression.

    • Food sources of iron include legumes (dried beans, peas, and lentils), fortified grains, tofu, dark leafy greens, molasses, and organ meats.

  • Probiotics - research shows that a healthy human microbiome (bacteria in your gut) is associated with better mood. Processed foods wreak havoc on our guts so it is important to give our bodies a regular feed of healthy bacteria.

    • Food sources of probiotics include fermented items such as yogurt, kefir and kimchi.

Do yourself and your body a favour - ensure you are incorporating the above food and nutrients in your diet - it will do your mental health good!

If you have any questions, feel free to book a Complimentary Consultation with me. You can book directly online at: