Mental health has gained greater awareness in recent years, especially in light of the past couple of years. While there is a greater focus on mental health, the average individual may not know what lifestyle choices they can implement to support better mood, motivation, mental energy and outlook.
One of the keys to improving mental health is through the food and supplements you consume on a daily basis.
The reason for this is that the human gut has a profound impact on our neurochemistry. Another way of saying that is what you put in your mouth each and every day can help or hinder you on your path to living your best life ever.
With that in mind, here are some easy tips to consider when building a diet to boost mood and motivation.
Get Enough Fiber
The bacteria in your gut require nutrition to survive and thrive (just like the rest of your body does). However, instead of a mix of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats, the bacteria primarily need fiber -- the indigestible component of plant foods.
Your gut bacteria ferment these fibers and produce all sorts of molecules that are beneficial to your body, such as short-chain fatty acids like butyrate which can aid in combating mood imbalance and support cognitive function.
Not consuming enough fiber robs your gut bacteria of vital nutrition, which ultimately impacts gut health, mood, immune status, and much more.
The bottom line here is that you need to consume enough fiber each day to nourish the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Dietary fiber can be found in plant foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains). For additional help getting in enough daily fiber, you can also use a fiber supplement, such as 1UP Fiber Plus, which contains a robust 8 grams of natural fiber!
Maintain Steady Blood Sugar Levels
When discussing blood sugar, you typically think of swings in energy levels. After eating something high in sugar you feel a rush of energy, and then a short while later you’re dragging and feeling the “crash” associated with the rapid spike and fall of blood sugar.
However, roller coaster-esque blood sugar levels don’t only affect your energy levels -- they also impact your cardiometabolic health, hormone function, and mental status!
In fact, some research indicates that individuals with greater glycemic variability (i.e. unsteady blood sugar levels) may be associated with lower quality of life and negative moods.
Something else to keep in mind is that while too much sugar/carbohydrates at one time can be detrimental, so too can too little carbohydrate (or any diet that overly restricts or completely removes specific macronutrients or foods).
Instead of wondering whether you need to completely abandon carbohydrates or sugar altogether, instead focus on keeping your blood sugar in check by choosing better carbohydrate sources (i.e. complex carbohydrates), such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, and nut butters.
Get in Omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential fat that are required by the body for cell membranes, hormone production, a healthy inflammation response, cognitive function, and mood.
Having a deficiency in Omega-3s has been associated with depression.[2,3,4]
The vast majority of individuals that eat a Western Diet (“typical American Diet”) are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, largely on account of not consuming enough fatty fish (wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, etc.).
The American Heart Association currently recommends consuming ≥ two 3.5-oz fish servings per week (preferably oily fish) increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid DHA).
If you’re not big on fish or don’t have access to a quality source, you can use consider plant sources such as walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, or algae oil. However, plant-based forms of omega-3 fatty acids are typically less bioavailable than animal-based omega-3s.
Still another option is to use high-quality omega-3 supplements, such as 1UP Omega-3. Each serving supplies 2,000mg of High Strength Omega Rich Fish Oil Concentrate along with antioxidants to preserve freshness and potency.
Boost Tryptophan Intake
Tryptophan is the essential amino acid (EAA) that the body uses to create serotonin -- the neurotransmitter that significantly impacts appetite, mood, and feelings of well-being.
Consuming enough tryptophan is critical to making sure your body has enough of the “raw material” required to synthesize serotonin.
Foods high in tryptophan include:
- Lean red meat (beef, pork, bison, etc.)
- Edamame (soybeans)
- Dairy (milk, yogurt, whey protein, etc.)
- Pumpkin seeds
Consider Supplementing with Probiotics
Last, but not least, we need to discuss the role of probiotics in supporting a healthy mood and outlook.
At the outset, we mentioned that your gut bacteria have a tremendous impact on your mood (after all over 90% of serotonin is made in the gut!).
Probiotics are live “good” bacteria present in foods, particularly fermented foods, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, kombucha, and kimchi.
In addition to consuming probiotic-rich foods, you can also consider probiotic supplements.
1UP Gut Health Plus is our premium gut support and digestion aid that contains:
- A comprehensive digestive enzyme complex to assist your body with breaking down and absorbing the nutrients you eat
- 13-strain probiotics complex, including bacillus coagulans, lactobacillus acidophilus, and bifidobacterium
- Prebiotics to nourish and support gut microbiota diversity
In addition to using supplements, make sure to follow the other tips laid out above, namely consuming a healthy diet rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates and low in refined, processed foods.
- Penckofer S, Quinn L, Byrn M, Ferrans C, Miller M, Strange P. Does glycemic variability impact mood and quality of life?. Diabetes Technol Ther. 2012;14(4):303-310. doi:10.1089/dia.2011.0191
- Hibbeln JR. Fish consumption and major depression. Lancet 1998;351:1213 10.1016/S0140-6736(05)79168-6
- Edwards R, Peet M, Shay J et al.. Depletion of docosahexaenoic acid in red blood cell membranes of depressive patients. Biochem Soc Trans 1998;26:S142 10.1042/bst026s142
- Peet M, Murphy B, Shay J et al.. Depletion of omega-3 fatty acid levels in red blood cell membranes of depressive patients. Biol Psychiatry 1998;43:315–19. 10.1016/S0006-3223(97)00206-0
- Papanikolaou, Y., Brooks, J., Reider, C. et al. U.S. adults are not meeting recommended levels for fish and omega-3 fatty acid intake: results of an analysis using observational data from NHANES 2003–2008. Nutr J 13, 31 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-13-31