What role does diet play in emotional well-being?


Diet plays a significant role in our emotional well-being, as explained by in various episodes of the . Tending to core pillars of health, which includes nutrition, on a daily basis creates a neurochemical environment that can lead to more positive emotions by setting the stage for particular emotional tones to emerge. When we maintain these pillars, we allow the nervous system to predict and prepare for what will happen next, thus leading to a bias towards more positive affects and emotions 1.

The timing and content of our meals also affect our body's circadian rhythms and levels of wakefulness, which in turn affect our mood and emotional state. The act of eating itself induces thermogenesis, increasing body temperature and metabolism, and different kinds of food can increase levels of neurotransmitters such as tryptophan (leading to serotonin production and a more lethargic state) or tyrosine (leading to dopamine production and increased alertness) 2.

Furthermore, specific diets have been linked to emotional states. For instance, the ketogenic diet has been shown to increase GABA transmission in the brain, which can help reduce epileptic seizures and also has reported benefits for people suffering from major depressive disorders, especially those who are refractory to classic antidepressants. The ketogenic diet's effect on GABA and glutamate balance in the brain is key to these benefits 3.

Shifting Emotional Tone

Andrew Huberman explains how tending to the six core pillars on a daily basis can shift our affect and emotional tone, leading to more positive emotions regardless of life circumstances.

Huberman Lab

Mental Health Toolkit: Tools to Bolster Your Mood & Mental Health

Finally, practices that enhance vagal tone, such as mindful breathing, have been shown to significantly improve our overall mood and mental health. This effect is not temporary but persists throughout the day, demonstrating the relation between physiological regulation and consistent emotional enhancement 4.

It is evident that diet and nutrition are intertwined with neurochemical processes that delineate our emotional experiences. Ensuring a balanced diet, considering the impact of different foods on our system, and maintaining practices that promote physiological regulation all contribute to our emotional well-being.