Brain Chemistry: Food and Mood
Does food make you happy?
Why do you resort to chocolate every time you feel down? There’s logic behind your choice, and it has a lot to do with your mood! What you eat tips the balance of your brain chemistry and you end up feeling shitty or happy for no apparent reason! How you might ask? Well let’s find out!
Imbalances in brain chemistry
What do you think can go haywire in your brain and make you feel like shit?
There are 3 components that have an influence on your mood. These are serotonin, blood glucose and beta endorphins.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the nerve systems and it’s in charge of helping us cope in complex social situations. If levels of serotonin are high, we are in a state of wellbeing, euphoria, we feel relaxed, serene and just plain good! On the other hand, if levels of serotonin are low, we feel depressed, tired, moody, we start craving sugar and possibly even alcohol. See what serotonin does to your mood?
Beta endorphins have similar affects on your mood but also on your body’s tolerance for pain. High endorphin levels work as an analgesic and calm any pain. That’s why, if you cut your finger, it hurts only for a few minutes, time needed for your brain to start working up some more beta endorphins. When the levels of beta endorphins are high, you feel good, relaxed and happy. When they’re down, you feel tired, you crave sugar and you just feel like you can’t cope with anything!
Glucose levels have a strong influence. When they are high you feel good. They even stimulate serotonin production which makes you feel even better. You are energetic, happy and on top of the world!
How does what you eat affect how you feel?
Those three components of your brain chemistry are influenced by what you eat! When you consume carbohydrates your blood glucose levels rise and you feel good. Consequently, your serotonin levels are on the increase and in turn, the beta endorphins.
So the equation is quite simple: sugar => feel good.
But then where do we go wrong? You see, the body was never meant to ingest processed foods. You get an initial boost for consuming foods high in sugar, but this won’t last long. All those refined sugars that the body doesn’t even know what to do with trigger an extreme reaction. Your body produces way too much insulin that quickly transports the sugar to the fat cells for depositing.
Now not only did you store a whole lotta junk, but in a couple of hours you won’t even have any energy left! This causes your blood sugar levels to crash and you start feeling like shit. What happens then? You crave sugar! You eat another chocolate bar to get that high! Then the whole thing starts all over again.
You’re stuck in a vicious cycle of sugar rush and sugar crush and this is extremely damaging to the body! You get addicted to sugar just like to any drug, and although it momentarily makes you feel good, the more you consume, ultimately the more miserable you feel!
You should read Brain Chemistry: Eat to Feel Good to find out how to break the sugar rush-crush cycle!