Can Nutrition Affect Your Mental Health?

Can Nutrition Affect Your Mental Health?

A key part of your health is your diet—the foods you eat on a daily basis. When you stick to a diet of healthy food choices, studies show us that you're setting yourself up for fewer mood fluctuations and an overall happier outlook. [11]

It can be difficult to prioritize your health, but you don’t have to do it alone. Keep reading to learn more about how nutrition is directly linked to your mental wellness and how you can begin to get back on track. 

The Psychology of Nutrition: What You Need to Know

Your diet has a fundamental role in your health and wellness. Under the broad umbrella that is ‘health and wellness’ also falls your social, emotional, and mental well-being. Your mental health and your diet are closely related, and it’s in the fine print: 

  1. Your gut and your brain are best buddies. It’s called the gut-brain axis. Your gastrointestinal system is where trillions of little living microbes—the “friendly” bacteria—reside. The food that goes through your system can directly influence the health of gut microbe colonies responsible for synthesizing neurotransmitters that send chemical messages to the brain to regulate sleep, pain, appetite, mood, and emotion.[1,2,3] That means that poor food choices can affect just about everything, since poor mental health negatively impacts things like immunity, sleep health and energy, heart health, digestive health, and more.[11]
  2. Roughly 90 to 95% of your serotonin (a monoamine neurotransmitter that also acts as a “happy” hormone) is produced in the GI tract. Serotonin helps to regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and even inhibit pain. Your intestines are lined with all those “good” bacteria that provide a barrier against toxins, limit inflammation, improve absorption of nutrients from food, AND activate neural pathways that travel directly between the gut and the brain. Not only that, your GI tract is also lined with over a hundred million nerve cells. The inner workings of your digestive system don’t just help you digest food—all those neurons are heavily influenced by the microbes in your gut and help to guide your emotions, too.[4,5]

Eating Well for Mental Health: Tips & Tricks

First things first—if you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition (stress, anxiety, depression, etcetera), please contact a specialist as soon as possible. Individualized care is available to you via psychiatrists and psychologists, with the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, and other groups or communities that can be found here. You are not alone! Reach out for help.

If you’re searching for ways to make some changes to your lifestyle to support your emotional welfare, we already did some of the basic research for you. Here are a few suggestions we found to get you started:   

Load up on Hearty Nutrients

According to recent research, these are just a handful of nutrients (and some of the foods they’re found in) that have a clear link with improved mental health.[10]

- Omega-3 fatty acids: walnuts, chia, flaxseeds, salmon, herring, sardines. 
- Folate: beef liver, rice, fortified cereals, black-eyed peas, spinach, asparagus, Brussels sprouts. 
- Iron: oysters, beef liver, fortified cereals, spinach, dark chocolate, white beans, lentils, tofu. 
- Magnesium: spinach, pumpkin, chia seeds, soy milk, black beans, almonds, cashews, peanuts.
- Zinc: oysters, chicken, pork chops, beef roast, Alaska king crab, lobster, pumpkin seeds. 
- B vitamins: chicken breast, beef liver, clams, tuna, salmon, chickpeas, potatoes, bananas. 
- Vitamin A: beef liver, herring, cow’s milk, ricotta cheese, sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe.
- Vitamin C: red and green peppers, orange and grapefruit juice, strawberries, broccoli. 

What Else Do the Experts Say About Food for Your Mood? 

Those nutritional guides and experts are saying you should: [10]

  1. Pack in lots of whole fruits and veggies that are rich in things like fiber, complex carbohydrates, vitamin B, vitamin C, and healthy plant chemicals called polyphenols. You can start with things like berries, citrus fruits, and leafy greens.
  2. Fuel up on whole grains. We’re talking about cereals like rice, wheat, and oats—fiber-rich grains that are left fully intact during processing, unlike refined grains.
  3. Stay away from ultra-processed foods that are high in calories, salt, added sugar, and unsaturated fats. Foods like candies, baked goods, sugar-sweetened beverages, and salty snacks are not your pal when it comes to improving your mental health.
  4. Cut back on alcohol consumption. Opt for a glass of water instead. 
  5. Start eating at regular mealtimes at the same time every day. Irregular mealtime patterns could be negatively impacting your mood. 
  6. Make one small change at a time. Go easy on yourself! Change is a process. Give yourself time to adjust, and make healthy food swaps where you can.  
  7. Eat mindfully. How do certain foods and drinks make you feel? Build from there. 

Craving a treat after all that healthy eating? Dark chocolate has been found to reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress, so here’s a savory-sweet (and super simple) recipe for you: [9]


  • 70% Cacao to 90% Dark Chocolate
  • Avocado Oil
  • Mixed Fruit & Dried Nuts (Pecans, Pistachios, Dried Cranberries, etcetera)
  • Sea Salt


  1. Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Melt the chocolate in several 30-second intervals, stirring after each, until fully melted. Mix in your oil. 
  2. Pour the melted chocolate mixture into a wax-paper-lined 8-inch square pan and sprinkle it with your toppings (mixed fruit, dried nuts, sea salt). 
  3. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and freeze until the chocolate hardens (about 30 minutes). 
  4. Once settled, use a chef’s knife to cut the chocolate bark into four large squares or eight small ones. You can then cut each square into triangles. Serve and enjoy!

Add Supplementation to Your Diet

Yes—your diet is the best way to get your daily source of vitamins and minerals.[6] However, supplementation is a powerful addition to a typical diet—it can help an individual to improve or maintain their overall health, while also meeting daily requirements of essential nutrients. [7]

Plus, for those of us who struggle with nutritional gaps or who have deficiencies in specific vitamins or minerals, supplementation can be a critical part of a healthy diet. According to research, supplements are great for people like (or who): [8]

- Growing children and teens
- Have dietary restrictions that interfere with a full-spectrum diet
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women
- Elderly adults experiencing a decrease in essential vitamins and minerals with age
- Have certain medical conditions that are restricting
- Who don’t have access to fresh and healthy foods

Always consult with a trusted healthcare provider first if you are considering supplementation.

We recommend starting with a potent probiotic—the Pattern Wellness Probiotic. Our probiotic is designed to promote a happy, harmonious gut so you can get to feeling like your best you. Carefully crafted with over 51 billion CFUs from 11 probiotic strains to help alleviate gut issues, increase energy levels, and boost immune function, our naturally sourced and certified vegan probiotic is the only one you’ll ever need. 

Curious to learn more about why probiotics are our first choice for your gut and your brain? Check out this blog and this blog to learn more. 

But wait, there’s more! We have a variety of options—all with ingredients clinically proven to support cognitive function, mood, and overall wellness—including: 

- Turmeric Curcumin | Joint, Body, and Cognitive Support
- Daily Multivitamin | All-in-One Health Support 
- Ashwagandha Complex | Stress and Mood Support 
- Maca Root | Sexual Health and Fertility Support

We have even more in store for you right here. Browse our line of all-natural products formulated using only the purest ingredients to support your health today!

What are your favorite healthy food recipes to help boost your mood? 


  1. Scassellati, C., Marizzoni, M., Cattane, N., Lopizzo, N., Mombelli, E., Riva, M. A., & Cattaneo, A. (2021). The Complex Molecular Picture of Gut and Oral Microbiota-Brain-Depression System: What We Know and What We Need to Know. Frontiers in psychiatry, 12, 722335. 
  2. Foster, J. A., Baker, G. B., & Dursun, S. M. (2021). The Relationship Between the Gut Microbiome-Immune System-Brain Axis and Major Depressive Disorder. Frontiers in neurology, 12, 721126. 
  3. Yang, Z., Li, J., Gui, X., Shi, X., Bao, Z., Han, H., & Li, M. D. (2020). Updated review of research on the gut microbiota and their relation to depression in animals and human beings. Molecular psychiatry, 25(11), 2759–2772. 
  4. Mittal, R., Debs, L. H., Patel, A. P., Nguyen, D., Patel, K., O'Connor, G., Grati, M., Mittal, J., Yan, D., Eshraghi, A. A., Deo, S. K., Daunert, S., & Liu, X. Z. (2017). Neurotransmitters: The Critical Modulators Regulating Gut-Brain Axis. Journal of cellular physiology, 232(9), 2359–2372. 
  5. Chen, Y., Xu, J., & Chen, Y. (2021). Regulation of Neurotransmitters by the Gut Microbiota and Effects on Cognition in Neurological Disorders. Nutrients, 13(6), 2099. 
  6. Current dietary guidelines. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 and Online Materials | Dietary Guidelines for Americans. (2022). Retrieved from 
  7. FDA. (2022, June 2). FDA 101: Dietary supplements. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved November 21, 2022, from 
  8. Kubala, J. (2021, May 26). Synthetic vs. natural nutrients: What's the difference? Healthline. Retrieved from 
  9. Wirtz, P. H., von Känel, R., Meister, R. E., Arpagaus, A., Treichler, S., Kuebler, U., Huber, S., & Ehlert, U. (2014). Dark chocolate intake buffers stress reactivity in humans. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 63(21), 2297–2299. 
  10. Snyder, C. (2022, June 29). Can your diet affect your mental health? Healthline. Retrieved from 
  11. MD, E. S. (2022, September 18). Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food. Harvard Health. Retrieved from

Comments (0)

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published