Mood Foods
Better Nutrition|July 2021
Your brain depends on neuro-nutrients to run smoothly. Here’s what you need to know.

If you could peek inside your brain, you’d find trillions of cells and a biological computer far more complex than anything ever made by Apple, Intel, or Microsoft. It grows, learns from experience, and adapts to new information.

To accomplish all this, the brain needs a variety of nutrients that form the foundation of its biochemistry. With an ample supply of these neuro-nutrients, the brain works normally, enhancing cognition and supporting healthy moods. Fill it with junk foods instead of fresh fruits, veggies, clean protein, etc.—or ignore nutritional deficiencies and imbalances—and the brain sputters and misfires, affecting our mood.

Decades ago, Nobel laureate Linus Pauling, PhD, observed that the brain was far more sensitive than any other organ to nutritional deficiencies or imbalances. For instance, when your blood sugar crashes, your mood usually does too, leaving you impatient and irritable.

Think Supplements

If you’re on a low-fat diet, you could be starving your brain’s gray matter. That’s because 60 percent of the brain consists of fat. Specific dietary fats are crucial for the developing brains of infants, and they help thinking and memory throughout life. These nutrients also play key roles in regulating neurotransmitters, chemicals that influence mood.

Omega-3s. People need the two principal omega-3 fats, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for normal development of the brain, eyes, and nervous system. Abundant in fish oils, EPA and DHA are incorporated into the walls of brain cells, where they turn on genes involved in neurotransmitter activity and promote connections between brain cells. Considerable research has found that EPA and DHA benefit a wide range of mood problems, including depression, impulsiveness, hostility, and physical aggressiveness. Recent studies also support the benefits of omega-3s in reducing anxiety and symptoms of bipolar disorder.

TRY: 1–3 grams of omega-3s from fish oil daily. Vegetarians can opt for algae sourced EPA and DHA supplements.

Phospholipids.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM BETTER NUTRITIONView All

In the Can

In a culinary world dominated by farm-to-table eating and fresh ingredients, MasterChef semifinalist and author Theo A. Michaels celebrates the joys of cooking with canned food.

5 mins read
Better Nutrition
November 2021

Is Your Skin Going Through a Dry Spell?

Moisturize your dry, winter skin with natural formulations that will leave you feeling soft and smooth—not sticky, slippery, or like you’re covered in chemicals.

3 mins read
Better Nutrition
November 2021

All-Star Sides for Thanksgiving Dinner

Turkey gets all the attention at Thanksgiving, but it’s the side dishes that really deserve the spotlight. Bright green peas, golden beets, crunchy Brussels sprouts, purple and green frilly kale, jewel-red pomegranates, and sunny orange winter squash take center stage in the following holiday recipes that are also perfect every day of the week.

3 mins read
Better Nutrition
November 2021

Diabetes Research Update

Weight loss and exercise are effective for both prevention and reversal of type 2 diabetes, and supplements can provide additional benefits:

2 mins read
Better Nutrition
November 2021

A Taste of the Tropics

After returning home from Nicaragua, Pitaya Foods founder Chuck Casano couldn’t get dragon fruit smoothies out of his mind. So he decided to bring the delicious, exotic fruit to the states.

3 mins read
Better Nutrition
November 2021

Self-Care 101

How to create a nourishing self-care routine that can help you feel calmer, more centered, and better able to face the challenges of the world around you.

6 mins read
Better Nutrition
November 2021

The Amazing Benefits of Cat's Claw

This South American superstar herb can quell inflammation and boost immunity—and it may even help stave offcognitive decline.

3 mins read
Better Nutrition
November 2021

Fresh Marinara Sauce in Minutes

If you have five minutes, then you have time to make this no-stir, no-simmer, über-healthy tomato sauce.

4 mins read
Better Nutrition
October 2021

10 Ways You're Sabotaging Your Immune System

Never as a nation have we been more focused on immunity. But in spite of our best efforts, some all-too-common daily habits may be undermining our resistance to infection. Here are 10 sneaky immune saboteurs, and ways to change them.

5 mins read
Better Nutrition
October 2021

Out of the Amazon

Some of nature’s most powerful healers come from the depths of the South American rainforest. Here’s why—and what you should look for in supplements.

5 mins read
Better Nutrition
October 2021