12 Top Mood Boosting Nutrients

12 Top Mood Boosting Nutrients to consider:  When you are feeling down, it can be tempting to turn to food to lift your spirits. However, the sugary, high calorie treats that many people resort to have negative consequences of their own.

Ultra-processed foods and gut health

What we eat, especially foods that contain chemical additives and ultra-processed foods, affects our gut environment, and increases our risk of diseases. Ultra-processed foods contain substances extracted from food (such as sugar and starch), added from food constituents (hydrogenated fats), or made in a laboratory (flavor enhancers, food colorings).

Researchers recommend “fixing the food first” (in other words, what we eat) before trying gut modifying therapies (probiotics, prebiotics) to improve how we feel. They suggest eating whole foods and avoiding processed and ultra-processed foods that we know cause inflammation and disease.

But what does my gut have to do with my mood?

When we consider the connection between the brain and the gut, it is important to know that 90% of serotonin receptors are in the gut. In the relatively new field of nutritional psychiatry, we help patients understand how gut health and diet can positively or negatively affect their mood. When someone is prescribed an antidepressant such as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), the most common side effects are gut-related, and many people temporarily experience nausea, diarrhea, or gastrointestinal problems.

When the balance between the good and bad bacteria is disrupted, diseases may occur. Examples of such diseases include inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), asthma, obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and cognitive and mood problems. For example, IBD is caused by dysfunction in the interactions between microbes (bacteria), the gut lining, and the immune system.


12 Top Mood Boosting Nutrients 

A recent study suggests that eating a healthy, balanced diet such as the Mediterranean diet and avoiding inflammation-producing foods may be protective against depression. Another study outlines an Antidepressant Food Scale, which lists 12 antidepressant nutrients related to the prevention and treatment of depression.

The brain consumes more food than any other part of the body, and certain nutrients affect brain health differently. For example, some foods tend to be higher in nutrients known as “mood boosters.”

According to the most current research, the 12 top mood boosting nutrients include:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Magnesium
  • Folate
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin C
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin A
  • Thiamine (Vitamin B1)

These nutrients, often found in foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lamb, and fish, can contribute to mental health. A recent study found that participants who ate a diet consisting of these foods had a 35% reduced risk of major depression and a 32% reduced risk of anxiety. On the other hand, a diet high in sugar and processed foods can increase the risk for developing depressio


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