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Happy Belly, Happy Brain: How Food Habits Can Transform Your Mental Health

Food and mood aren’t just two words that happen to rhyme. There is a deeply intertwined relationship between what we put in our bodies and how we feel. Not only does your mood impact your choice of food (we’ve all had those days when we’re just sad and want to dive head first into a tub of ice cream), but the food you eat also affects your mood.

In this article from Seed and Soil Wellness, our integrative medicine doctor shares tips for how to transform your mental health through your food choices. Warning: this post might make you hungry!

The Benefits of Food for Your Brain

The majority of people know that eating a healthy and balanced diet is essential to keep your body in good shape, internally and externally. Health professionals have been saying this for decades, but now, even mental health professionals are on board. Growing bodies of evidence show that food has a major mental impact.

A Whole New Meaning to ‘Gut Feeling’

Believe it or not, your gut is known as your ‘second brain,’ with 90% of your serotonin, which plays a crucial role in emotional regulation and happiness, produced in your gut. Bacteria in your gut microbiome do so many things for your body, such as:

  • Regulating digestion and metabolism

  • Extracting and making vitamins and nutrients from the food you eat

  • Programming the body’s immune system

  • Building and maintaining the gut wall

  • Producing hundreds of neurochemicals for learning, memory, and mood

When you eat, you’re feeding the bacteria in your gut and influencing the production of mood-regulating neurochemicals. Gut bacteria are easily damaged by unhealthy, sugary, processed foods. So... let’s use logic here. Less healthy and helpful bacteria = fewer emotional regulating chemicals.

So, What Can You Eat to Boost Your Mood?

It’s true that many of the foods in our Standard American Diet, or SAD (how ironic, right?), are harmful to our gut microbiomes. However, if you stick to food categories such as complex carbohydrates, natural proteins, and colorful produce, your brain will thank you.


Protein is a crucial part of the diet that a lot of us don’t get enough of. To ensure you’re getting enough, source your protein from grass-fed and organic products such as beef, fish, chicken, turkey, beans, eggs, and unsweetened yogurt. Animal flesh is the ideal source for our GI tract.

Don’t be afraid to get adventurous when it comes to eating meat – organ meat is incredibly beneficial for your health.