By eating the right foods, you provide your body with the key nutrients needed to produce these brain chemicals to give you a natural lift. Of particular importance are amino acids from protein-rich foods. Without sufficient protein in your diet, your mood is likely to suffer. Dopamine, for example, which creates pleasure and keeps us motivated, is made from amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine. Serotonin requires the amino acid tryptophan and GABA can be made from glutamine.

The production of neurotransmitters is also dependent on sufficient levels of certain vitamins and minerals, including magnesium, copper, zinc, B vitamins and folate. There are other important nutrients to support healthy mood, too. For example, insufficient levels of vitamin D, phospholipids (a group of fats) and omega 3 fats can also impact on how we think and feel. In the same way, certain food choices can have a negative effect on mood.

We have all experienced that sugar high followed by an energy crash after raiding the cookie jar. Sugar highs and lows are just one way food can affect our mood. Skipping meals or not eating enough can also result in falling blood sugar levels, which can make us feel “angry” and irritable. Whether you are looking to reduce stress, or boost energy and mood, here we reveal some of the top foods you might want to try, to feel calmer and happier…



Anxiety, nervousness and fear are often linked to lower levels of the neurotransmitter GABA and excess levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol. Try the following foods… Dark chocolate – There are over 300 naturally occurring chemicals in chocolate, and some of them, like phenylethylamine, can boost our mood. 

Dark chocolate and cocoa powder are rich in magnesium, which helps to relax our nervous system and calm the mind. Stress robs the body of magnesium, but the body must have magnesium to respond effectively to stress. Snack on a couple of squares of dark chocolate or make your own chocolate energy balls. 

Chamomile – Contains a natural compound called apigenin, which has been found in studies to reduce anxiety. Ideal as a warming evening drink to help you unwind. 

Yogurt – Fermented foods, such as yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut, contain a range of beneficial gut-loving bacteria. The influence of our gut bacteria on mental health is gaining more attention in research, with studies showing they can help improve resilience and reduce anxiety. Try a bowl of Greek yogurt with berries for a sweet treat. 

Beans – Butter Beans, kidney beans, haricot and others contain the nutrient inositol, which has been shown to reduce worry and anxiety, as well as improve mood. Beans also provide protein and fibre, making them ideal for stabilising blood sugar levels and keeping energy levels high. Why not try them tossed into salads or added to a warming soup or stew?

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