#4 How Food Can Boost Your Mood

Here’s the fourth topic of our article series, Food as Medicine. Today, I’m focusing on the bodily functions that boost your mood. The brain’s functioning is controlled by neurotransmitters, the molecules that send nerve signals. There are many neurotransmitters, but in this article, I’m going to talk about two of them in particular that are essential for your mental health: dopamine and serotonin.


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Dopamine is what gets you going. In fact, it’s what wakes you up, gets you excited and keeps you motivated. This is why it’s particularly active in the morning. Meanwhile, serotonin is the neurotransmitter that enables you to calm down, put things into perspective and soothe your spirit. This molecule is behind a sound mind, body and soul, which is active in the evening and starts melatonin synthesis, the hormone that regulates your sleep cycles. These two molecules are made straight from the amino acids in your diet. Dopamine comes from tyrosine, and serotonin comes from tryptophan. So, rather than using antidepressants or anxiolytics (note that these tips are purely informative and if you’re currently using these medications, ask your doctor to consider gradually taking you off them), boost your mood and your energy naturally through nutrition.

To do this, here are a few helpful tips:

  • Eat animal protein at breakfast: Ideally, one or two soft-boiled eggs (you don’t run the risk of raising your cholesterol if you eat them at this time of day), goat cheese or sheep cheese for example, and why not some poultry or fish, for those who want to be a bit more adventurous. However, you should reduce the amount of sweet foods you eat (those with a high glycemic index value).
  • Eat a lunch made up mostly of protein and vegetables: Raw vegetables or protein for starters (sardines or mackerel, for example), an animal protein-based dish (120 to 150 g of poultry, fish or lean meat) with a side of vegetables seasoned with a healthy oil and a fermented dairy product for dessert (preferably made from soy, goat or sheep milk).
  • Eat something sweet as a snack: Eating carbohydrates in the evening optimizes your body’s ability to synthesize serotonin. So, treat yourself to 30 g of walnuts and almonds (which contain tryptophan), possibly with a seasonal fruit or 1 to 2 squares of dark chocolate.
  • For dinner, it’s better to eat a vegetarian dish.

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In order for neurotransmitters to be synthesized properly, you need to have the optimal balance of magnesium, iron, zinc, copper and vitamins C, B1, B2, B6, B6, B9 and B12. Eating a diet that’s high in omega-3 is also key. Using phytotherapy also creates synergetic effects. For instance, you might want to try eleuthero or Siberian ginseng to boost your energy and valerian, common hawthorn or California poppy to help put you in a calm mood.

Never underestimate the power that nutrition can have on your mental health. But managing your dopamine and serotonin levels requires some discipline. Have you already tried eating eggs for breakfast on a regular basis? Coming up, I’ll talk more about the importance of restful sleep for your body.

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