Scientists have long studied the effects of nutrition on health, and we are aware of the consequences that poor eating habits and too many calories can have on the body, such as obesity, increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.
But we don’t often think about the link between what we eat and drink and the effect this has on our moods. Interestingly, choosing one food over another can be used to your advantage, helping to offset negative emotions and change the way you feel for the better, at least temporarily. Your diet can also have a bit of positive effect on the way you feel.
Emotions are linked to certain brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Three neurotransmitters in particular — dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin — have been studied in relation to food, and this research has shown that neurotransmitters are produced in the brain from components of certain foods.
A calmer effect has been associated with serotonin production. A stable brain serotonin level is associated with a positive mood state. Many carbohydrates, such as bread, cereal, pasta and candy, can produce this temporary increase in serotonin and a calming effect.
Factors such as the size of the meal and the body’s own internal clock, known as circadian rhythms, can also affect eating patterns, alertness and performance.