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How food really affects our mood

How food really affects our mood


This article was borne out of a video I saw on Twitter in which a pig with a huge red whip mark across its back was desperately screaming in horror as it awaits its inevitable death in a slaughterhouse. The video alone was disturbing but this caption from another netizen haunted me the most. 

In that moment, the common saying “You are what you eat” never made more sense and this further got me thinking about how my eating habits might just be the reason why I go through a handful of mood swings every day. 

Turns out, there’s actually an emerging study revolving around this topic, which is nutritional psychiatry. Come to think of it, when we drink coffee, we expect to stay awake and be alert because it has caffeine and we anticipate the lightheaded exhilaration that alcoholic drinks bring. And so, it comes as a surprise why a study applying this to the food we eat is only starting to crop up now.


Raw meat photo from Unsplash

It’s long been established how too much meat consumption is bad for the health for reasons such as contributing to bad cholesterol and high blood pressure. When it comes to how it can affect our emotions however, a significant number of studies explain how the emotions of an animal before its death transfers to the meat it becomes. Since there’s no dodging the fact that animals are slaughtered before they become meat, we can expect the distress they’ve been feeling will be transmitted one way or another. This may well point to some of those short-tempered, meat-loving people in our lives. 

Processed food like candies and junk food meanwhile have the ability to make us all giddy with the sugar rush; they are nonetheless bound to trump our stress and agitation levels not long after. In the long run, diets filled with these kinds of (pseudo) goodies are also believed to aggravate disorders like depression and anxiety. So I guess the immediate pleasure from these sweets are simply overcompensating for all the trouble they’re going to put us through.  


Candies and sweets photo from Unsplash

On a lighter note (or tweet), fresh and unadulterated kinds of food will be our best bets when it comes to lifting our spirits. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (fish, cauliflower, broccoli), fiber (strawberries, pineapples, papaya), folic acids (oranges, spinach, beans) and selenium (eggs, oatmeal, oysters, tofu) are proven to boost serotonin levels. And so, instead of ice cream, you might want to stack up on this convenient list we found: 


Types of food that boost serotonin photo from Unsplash

Yes, even popcorn made it on the list but this is most likely the plain unsalted one. Contrary to what this article might be getting at, carbohydrates are also scientifically proven to keep gloominess at bay; it’s just that they need to be complex carbohydrates in the form of corn, whole-grain bread, and peas. 

While we can’t discuss everything about nutritional psychiatry, the key concept to remember from all of this would have to be that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another. The first law of thermodynamics tells us this and in the case of things that affect how we feel, we see exactly why this is so. 

This is not direct encouragement to shun meat or processed food but the biggest takeaway is to seriously consider what we’re feeding and putting in our bodies because whether we like it or not, it will constantly reflect something about ourselves. 


Header photo from Unsplash

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Writer: JOY THERESE GOMEZ © 2020. Hinge Inquirer Publications, Inc.