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January 29, 2014

So how exactly does food affect your mental health? Consider my recent experience, I set up my appointments so I can take a lunch break around noon or 1pm. For lunch I usually alternate between a left over meal from last night’s dinner, or the occasional sandwich.

Yesterday, I did something different, I stopped by a pizza buffet on the way to the office for lunch. About an hour and a half after lunch I noticed a significant cloudiness in my thinking process, which seemed to flare up when I took notes. I also found myself mildly irritated for reasons I could not explain.

Bad start to the morning

I have actually read about this before, and I  even wrote a post on depression and foods that can help alleviate depression. Consider this, if most antidepressants are designed to increase the transmission of serotonin between neurons in the brain, then where does serotonin come from? More specifically, where is serotonin produced?

80% of serotonin is produced in our guts while the rest are produced in our central nervous system. While the scientific community has known for a long time about certain types of foods which influence our moods, I think it’s something most professionals and the rest of the public take for granted.

The foods we eat does influence how our biology produces serotonin and subsequently our mood, and this post shows how. Based on what I  read, it appears the extra carbs I consumed from the pizza slices rapidly boosted my serotonin production, but briefly. Which was probably followed by a drastic decrease in production which led to my mild irritable mood.

The moral of the story is that what we eat also plays a role in our mood and overall mental health. I am going to stick to my leftovers and the occasional subway. In the mean time, if you want to do some reading on your own, I would recommend a copy of the food-mood solution written by renowned nutritionist Jack Challan. Besides recommendations for a healthy lifestyle, Jack discusses types of foods and supplements people should consume in order to help regulate their moods.


Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.

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