When we think of our mood we tend to think of it being related to our brain – yet many neurotransmitters are actually made in the gut.
Eighty percent of the body’s serotonin – a happy, calm, content hormone – for example is made in the gut. Fermented foods typically contain microbes that are beneficial to the human digestive system and hence can enhance our mood. You can buy them or make your own.
Chocolate is a good source of tryptophan, an amino acid that supports the production of serotonin. Chocolate consumption also drives the brain to produce another chemical called anandamide – which has been shown to temporarily block feelings of pain and depression. Dopamine is also produced when we eat chocolate and this can have a mood lifting effect on many people.
However for those with already elevated dopamine levels excessive amounts of chocolate can lead to tension and aggression. So like with all things related to mood there is no one size fits all; some find chocolate enhances their mood – for others it gives them a headache and/or fires them up.
Bananas – particularly ripe bananas – can help to regulate dopamine – a feel good factor – as they contain a high concentration of tyrosine – an amino acid that helps generate dopamine in the brain. Bananas are also rich in B group vitamins – including vitamin B6 as well as magnesium – both essential for relaxation and a calm nervous system.