Diet and Mood

  • David Benton


It can be argued that relatively minor changes in mood will be amongst the first Symptoms of a poor diet. In at least some of the population, those whose intake of micro-nutrients is marginal although not in the traditional sense deficient, supplementation has been associated with better mood. In addition there have been frequent suggestions that the nature of the macro-nutrients in meals influence how we feel. A major theory has been that a meal high in carbohydrate will increase the rate that tryptophan enters the brain, leading to an increase in the level of the neurotransmitter Serotonin that modulates mood. Although such a mechanism may be important under laboratory conditions it is unlikely to be of significance following the eating of any likely meal. Similarly the pattern of meals, in particular whether breakfast is eaten, influences mood. There are many instances of a diet grossly deficient in a nutrient resulting in changes in mood. There is however, evidence that a marginal intake, in susceptible individuals, has a less dramatic effeet. Given the complexity of the brains chemistry relatively minor changes in the supply of essential nutrients, if they had a multitude of minor influences, might be expected to have a cumulative impact. Arguably the food with the greatest impact on mood is chocolate. Those who crave chocolate tend to do so when they feel emotionally low and the ability to improve mood seems to be a major reason for its consumption.


Diet Endorphins Folate Iron Macro-nutrient Micro-nutrient Mood Palatability Selenium Stress Thiamin Vitamin B12 


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Benton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WalesSwanseaUK

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