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  • Writer's pictureBrian Dooreck MD

Food & Mood

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

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Good food helps with a good mood.

What is the link between the gut and the brain?

We've all heard of the "gut feeling" as intuitive. However, well beyond intuition, the science of the gut-brain interconnection indicates how gut bacteria produce various neurotransmitters that relate to our emotions, such as dopamine, norepinephrine, acetylcholine, and GABA, which are essential for mood, concentration, reward, and motivation.

"I hope to add real value to social media and share what my patients ask me about." — Dr. Dooreck

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What effects do unhealthy foods have on the gut?

We are what we eat; thus, what we eat, particularly products with chemical additives and ultra-processed foods, impacts our gut microbiome and increases the likelihood of different diseases.

We are what we eat

Processed and ultra-processed foods linked to inflammation and disease should be avoided. The equilibrium between good and bad gut bacteria might be altered due to poor nutrition.

Therefore, diseases like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and cognitive and emotional disorders could develop.

What are ultra-processed foods?

Ultra-processed products are foods and beverages that have undergone specific types of processing. Ultra-processed foods are made chiefly from substances extracted from foods, such as fats, starches, added sugars, and hydrogenated fats.

These foods are prevalent in Western diets, which include soft drinks, sweetened breakfast cereals, packaged soups, canned fruits and vegetables, salted meats, hotdogs, instant noodles, chips, and more.

How does food affect mood?

The gut and brain have an anatomical and physiological two-way connection called the gut-brain axis. Additionally, 90% of serotonin (mood-stabilizer neurotransmitter) is produced in the digestive tract.

Nutrition can negatively or positively affect mood. Poor nutrition and diseases, including depression and anxiety, are linked through the gut-brain axis. Some of the most prevalent side effects of an antidepressant, such as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), are gut-related. Therefore, healthy foods nourish the gut bacteria for the gut to function correctly, which in turn improves mood.

Nutrition can actually negatively or positively affect mood.

How the food you eat affects your brain | Mia Nacamulli

Good food, good mood!

Although a person's unique gut microbiome is formed within the first 2-3 years of life, you can do things throughout your life to influence your gut environment and maintain its well-being. Here are some suggestions:

  • Consume whole foods rather than processed foods containing additives and preservatives that disrupt the gut's good bacteria. 

  • Consume fresh fruits and veggies. Frozen fruits and veggies with no additives are also a good option.

  • Consume a balance of seafood and lean poultry while limiting red meat intake.

  • Consume fermented foods such as kefir (unsweetened), sauerkraut, or kimchi, which can aid in keeping your gut healthy.

  • Consume a diet rich in whole grains and legumes.

  • Include foods high in probiotics, such as plain yogurt with no added sugars.

  • Eat sufficient fiber.

  • Lastly, don't forget to exercise and incorporate other self-care practices into your routine in addition to a healthy diet.


I eat a high-fiber, mostly plant-based 🌱 diet, no red meat, drink 4 liters of water a day, exercise, and am focused on keeping nutrition simple. I am sharing what works for me and what I routinely recommend to my patients.

"Balance. Portion control. Keep nutrition simple. Eat Smart. Eat Healthy. 🌱 🌾 🌿"

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Connect with Dr. Dooreck on LinkedIn, where he focuses his sharing on Health, Diet, Nutrition, Exercise, Lifestyle, and Balance.


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