Gut Health for Happier Minds: Low FODMAP Foods and Mood

Gut Health for Happier Minds: Low FODMAP Foods and Mood

Published on Monday, August 07, 2023 by Deanna Salles-Freeman

From Gut to Mind: How Low FODMAP Foods Influence Your Emotional Health

Rainbows. Who hasn’t captured a rainbow picture on their phone? What about a beautiful meal picture? Just looking at colorful food lifts my mood. Eat the rainbow. We know that food has a profound effect on our physical health, but did you know it can also influence our mood?

If you’ve ever been “hangry,” you understand somewhat how food (or lack of food) can impact your mood. Research shows that there is a strong connection between what we eat and how we feel. The Low FODMAP diet can help alleviate symptoms of digestive disorders, but its impact on mood is also worth exploring. Let’s delve into the relationship between your mood and your food.

Gut-Brain Connection

The gut-brain axis is a complex bidirectional communication network between the gastrointestinal system and the brain. Emerging scientific evidence indicates that the gut microbiota, the collection of microorganisms residing in our intestines, plays a crucial role in influencing mood and behavior. When the gut microbiota is imbalanced or disrupted, it can contribute to the development of mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression. The Low FODMAP diet may help rebalance the gut microbiota and improve overall mental well-being.

I’m sorry for what I said when I was hangry.

The Low FODMAP diet involves limiting or avoiding foods high in certain fermentable carbohydrates. While primarily designed to alleviate digestive symptoms, there is growing evidence that the Low FODMAP diet may also positively impact mood. The relationship between FODMAPs and mood lies in their effect on gut health. Studies have shown that reducing FODMAP intake can lead to improvements in gastrointestinal symptoms

By minimizing gut inflammation and promoting a healthier balance of gut bacteria, the Low FODMAP diet may indirectly enhance mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Additionally, some research suggests that FODMAPs may directly impact the production of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, which plays a key role in regulating mood. Be sure to meet your nutritional needs with a balanced diet while avoiding trigger foods. 

7 Low FODMAP Foods For Your Mood

When following a Low FODMAP diet to support both your digestive health and mood, it's important to choose foods that are both low in fermentable carbohydrates and have mood-boosting properties. Here are some Low FODMAP foods that can potentially enhance your mood (make sure to check portions for the correct Low FODMAP servings):

  1. Lean Proteins: Opt for lean protein sources such as skinless poultry, fish, eggs, firm tofu, and tempeh. These foods are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that plays a role in serotonin production, a neurotransmitter associated with mood regulation.
  1. Fruits: Enjoy Low FODMAP fruits like berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries), oranges, grapes, and kiwis. These fruits are not only packed with vitamins and antioxidants but also provide natural sugars that can help increase energy levels and promote a positive mood.
  1. Leafy Greens: Include leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and collard greens in your meals. They are Low in FODMAPs and high in magnesium, which has been linked to mood improvement and stress reduction.
  1. Nuts and Seeds: Opt for Low FODMAP options like peanuts, walnuts, chia, and pumpkin seeds. These are excellent sources of healthy fats, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids, which have been associated with brain health and mood enhancement.
  1. Quinoa: This gluten-free grain alternative is Low in FODMAPs and rich in protein, fiber, and various nutrients. Quinoa provides a slow release of energy, which can help stabilize blood sugar levels and support a balanced mood.
  1. Dark Chocolate: Indulge in dark chocolate that contains a high percentage of cocoa (70% or more). Dark chocolate is known to stimulate the production of endorphins, which can contribute to a sense of well-being and happiness. Stick to small portions to keep within Low FODMAP guidelines.
  1. Herbal Teas: Sip on herbal teas like peppermint, decaf green, or ginger tea. These options are naturally low in FODMAPs and can help promote relaxation, reduce stress, and improve mood.

Food and Mood

Research continues to explore the intricate relationship between food and mood, and the Low FODMAP diet emerges as a potential tool to positively impact both gastrointestinal symptoms and emotional well-being. By successfully completing the elimination and reintroduction phases of the Low FODMAP diet, individuals with digestive disorders may experience relief from physical discomfort and an improvement in mood-related symptoms. 

However, it is important to approach the Low FODMAP diet with guidance from a healthcare professional to ensure a nutritional balance. Ultimately, a healthy gut contributes to a healthy mind, highlighting the importance of considering dietary choices for improved overall well-being.

I see you, and YOU are beautiful!

  1. Foster, J. A., Rinaman, L., & Cryan, J. F. (2017). Stress & the gut-brain axis: Regulation by the microbiome. Neurobiology of Stress, 7, 124–136.
  2. Staudacher, H. M., Black, C. J., Teasdale, S. B., Mikocka-Walus, A., & Keefer, L. (2023). Irritable bowel syndrome and mental health comorbidity - approach to multidisciplinary management. Nature reviews. Gastroenterology & hepatology, 1–15. Advance online publication. 
  3. Aranburu, E., Matias, S., Simón, E., Larretxi, I., Martínez, O., Bustamante, M. Á., Fernández-Gil, M. D. P., & Miranda, J. (2021). Gluten and FODMAPs Relationship with Mental Disorders: Systematic Review. Nutrients, 13(6), 1894. 
  4. Kortlever, T. L., Ten Bokkel Huinink, S., Offereins, M., Hebblethwaite, C., O’Brien, L., Leeper, J., Mulder, C. J. J., Barrett, J. S., & Gearry, R. B. (2019). Low-FODMAP Diet Is Associated With Improved Quality of Life in IBS Patients-A Prospective Observational Study. Nutrition in Clinical Practice.
  5. Gros, M., Gros, B., Mesonero, J. E., & Latorre, E. (2021). Neurotransmitter Dysfunction in Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Emerging Approaches for Management. Journal of clinical medicine, 10(15), 3429. 
  6. Selhub, E. (2022, September 18). Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food - Harvard Health Blog. Harvard Health Blog; Harvard Health Publishing. 

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