What we choose to eat and what we choose not to eat directly affect the way we feel both physically and mentally. Food choices are connected to the health of our mood and overall outlook on things due to how our gut microbes either benefit or suffer from the dietary choices we make, a connection known as the gut-brain axis. For example, the probiotics in fermented foods, such as kefir, are increasingly showing that they are vital for optimal mood support by supporting a healthy microbiome.
Other foods provide important nutrients to feed the gut and brain which contribute to good mental health. These include protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and important antioxidants.
The Benefits of Eating Good Foods for Your Mood:
With the winter blues coming on fast and cold temps keeping us inside, it’s extremely important to be conscious of your diet (especially when fresh produce may not be as readily available). Eating well during the winter and other times of the year will help keep your weight in check, support a positive mood, and keep your heart in great shape. To help you choose optimal foods that support mood and gut health, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite gut and mood-boosting foods, and created a delicious Pomegranate Rose Smoothie that’s perfect for celebrating a healthier and happier you! To make this even more special, we added creamy, mild Lifeway Farmer Cheese, our artisan cheese made with the same probiotic cultures as our kefir.
Foods for Your Mood: Good For More Than Just Your Belly
1. Pomegranate- This antioxidant powerhouse promotes cardiovascular health by protecting the lining of blood vessels. The vitamins, minerals, and proteins in pomegranate juice have also been shown to help improve mood in both men and women.
2. Flax seed – With the addition of a variety of essential minerals, the two big swingers for flax seeds are its heart/brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and hormone-supporting lignans.
3. Bananas – Rich in potassium, magnesium, and B vitamins, the naturally sweet fruit also provides a healthy dose of tryptophan – an essential amino acid needed for the production of mood-boosting serotonin.
4. Honey– Natural sugars in honey also help ward off low energy and sluggishness by providing a burst of healthy, mood-booting energy. Honey also contains natural digestive enzymes.
5. Dark Chocolate- Another antioxidant superstar, dark chocolate contains a variety of naturally occurring feel-good compounds, including the so-called “love chemical” phenylethylamine. It also contains magnesium, a calming mineral, as well as iron which supports healthy brain function.
6. Lifeway Kefir– Kefir translates to the meaning, “good feeling,” in Turkish and is an excellent food to support a healthy mood. Lifeway kefir contains live and active probiotics that support a healthy microbiome, gut function, and immune system, which are all directly linked to mood and overall health. Kefir also contains natural tryptophan from milk, which is an amino acid that is a precursor to the development of serotonin in the body, a feel-good neurotransmitter. Kefir directly supports the gut-brain axis that we learn more about the importance of every passing year. It may be one of the most promising foods for improving mood and gut health through this direct correlation.
Pomegranate Rosewater Smoothie
- 1 1/2 cups Lifeway Lowfat Madagascar Vanilla Kefir
- 1 cup Lifeway Farmer Cheese
- 3/4 cup pomegranate juice
- 1/2 cup raspberries
- 1 medium/large banana, sliced and frozen
- 1 teaspoon ground flax seeds
- 1 tsp. raw cacao powder
- 1 tsp rosewater
- 1 tsp raw honey (optional)
Combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until smooth. Add additional kefir to reach the desired consistency if needed.
Make Better Choices for Mental Health:
When the option to have fruit, veggies, healthy nuts and seeds, and fermented foods with high-quality protein is available, always choose those. For example, a piece of fruit and one of our ProBugs pouches for kids, or one of our 8-ounce bottles of low-fat kefir make an excellent on-the-go choice for protein and probiotics. Our Probiotic Functional Shots are also wonderful as a way to naturally boost your mood by supporting your gut. With only 3 grams of sugar per bottle and 50 billion units of probiotics, they’re an unparalleled choice over drinkable yogurts. Or, pair our creamy Farmer Cheese with some cut veggies and add your favorite seasonings as an alternative to more processed dips and chips.
Limiting foods high in sugar, ultra-processed foods, and fried foods is also important as well. These foods can contribute to unhealthy blood sugar levels, metabolism, gut health, and mental health and replace key nutrients our bodies need. Alcohol and too much caffeine have also been shown to have negative effects on mental health. The takeaway? Take care of your gut by eating for good health and a healthy mood so it can take care of you!