Happy Plate, Happy Mind: Foods That Boost Your Mood & Mind

Trend in Mental Health and Well-being

With repeated lockdowns and surviving a global pandemic, it’s not surprising that many people are not feeling their best at the moment. Even with the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, low moods have become more widespread in the community and many people are still struggling. Consequently, it makes sense to desire a little pick-me-up to make you feel better. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), low mood is one of the most common symptoms of depression, an affective disorder that affects approximately 20% of the world’s population and is the leading cause of disability worldwide7. The connections between diet and mental health have attracted a lot of research recently.

How can food effects your emotions?

We all react differently to the foods we eat. However, certain foods and beverages can influence our mood in a variety of ways. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in regulating sleep and appetite, modulating moods, and suppressing pain6. Your digestive system produces most of your serotonin and has millions of neurons. This means that your gut not only helps you digest food but also influences your emotions5. Having low moods may be caused by poor nutrition, so changing diet may protect not just the one’s physical health but also its mental health. The billions of “good” bacteria in your gut microbiome have a significant impact on the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin5. Thus, as shown in Figure 1, high consumption of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes and moderate consumption of poultry, eggs, and dairy products is associated with reduced risk of depression2.

Figure 1: Hypothesised relationship between diet, physical health, and mental health

Source: Firth et al. (2020)

Foods and drinks that can help improve mood and mental health.

  • Collagen

Collagen might enhance your mood and boost your energy levels. This is due to the presence of glycine. Glycine is one of the main amino acids present in collagen. Glycine has been shown to stimulate serotonin levels without also increasing dopamine levels1. Serotonin is a hormone that helps regulate mood. Low levels of serotonin can lead to feelings of depression and sadness. Taking collagen may increase serotonin levels, leading to improved mood and a more positive outlook.

Source of Collagen: fish, poultry, meat, eggs, dairy, legumes, and soy

  • Vitamin B

Vitamin B serves as a cofactor in the synthesis and regulation of dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitters, which have been linked to mood regulation, sadness, and anxiety. By utilizing these neurotransmitters, Vitamin B can improve mood. An anxious brain is often an unhappy brain, and increasing levels of these neurotransmitters may benefit those with depression.

Source of Vitamin B: salmon, leafy greens, legumes, liver and other organ meat, eggs

  • Lavender Herbal Tea

Lavender is traditionally thought to have therapeutic benefits, including the ability to relax the human body4. Lavender compounds may stimulate activity in certain areas of the brain and affect impulse transmission between brain cells in ways that improve mood and create a calming effect3. Hence, consuming a cup of lavender herbal tea per day can significantly increase your mood.

The relationship between our emotions and the foods we eat is complex and multi-layered. While some of the effects on our mood and food choices can be explained by the nutritional content of the foods. For optimal bodily function, it’s important to include a variety of protein-rich foods as well as those that are packed with essential vitamins and minerals into your diet. At DPO International, we are honoured to be in partnership with Hexagon Nutrition & Gelita to bring you ranges of ingredients that offer several distinguishable features for your food and beverage applications.


1Bannai, M., Kawai, N., Ono, K., Nakahara, K., & Murakami, N. (2012). The Effects of Glycine on Subjective Daytime Performance in Partially Sleep-Restricted Healthy Volunteers. Frontiers in Neurology, 3.

2Firth, J., Gangwisch, J. E., Borisini, A., Wootton, R. E., & Mayer, E. A. (2020). Food and mood: how do diet and nutrition affect mental wellbeing? BMJ, m2382.

3Koulivand, P. H., Ghadiri, M. K., & Gorji, A. (2013). Lavender and the Nervous System. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013, 1–10.

4Ld, L. S. M. R. (2020, April 22). 4 Benefits and Uses of Lavender Tea and Extracts. Healthline.

5Selhub, E., MD. (2022). Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food. Harvard Health.

6Singh, M. (2014). Mood, food, and obesity. Frontiers in Psychology, 5.

7World Health Organization (WHO) (2021). Depression.

8Young, L., Pipingas, A., White, D., Gauci, S., & Scholey, A. (2019). A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of B Vitamin Supplementation on Depressive Symptoms, Anxiety, and Stress: Effects on Healthy and ‘At-Risk’ Individuals. Nutrients, 11(9), 2232.