July 25, 2024

Raise spirits with good mood foods

Understanding of the connections between food and mental health is constantly evolving, says travel nutrition expert Melissa Adamski. Is it now the time for airlines to take note?

The concept of mood boosting foods is growing in popularity. And while most of us have a go-to food for a little feel-good boost, the role diet plays in how we feel goes much deeper, with nutrients and phytonutrients influencing our mental health through metabolic pathways.

Diet is involved in cognition, fatigue, concentration, mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, eating disorders, and psychotic conditions – so as you can see, the concept of mood-boosting foods is more than a passing fad.

Nutrition expert Melissa Adamski

Mindful relationships

While the relationship between what we eat and how we feel is complex, we now know the foods we eat play a pivotal role in our mental health. Recent research has highlighted that diet plays both a role in development of mental health disorders and in their treatment. These advances have been so profound they have led to the development of a new area of psychiatry called nutritional psychiatry. In fact, diet is such an important player in our mental health that diet therapy is now front line treatment in the new Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists guidelines for mood disorders.

While we are still learning more about why some people develop certain mental health conditions, it is becoming clearer that factors such as chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, and our gut bacteria seem to play a role. Diet affects each of these with intakes of fibres, bioactives, fermented foods, prebiotics and probiotics, anti-inflammatory foods, and dietary patterns such as the Mediterranean diet associated with a positive influence on mental health.

Take it onboard

Travel can take its toll on passengers and staff. Airlines, caterers and the wider travel industry can elevate the passenger experience by considering the power of foods to support mental health. With technology providing the means for even longer flights, this makes the provision of food that supplies passengers with their daily nutrient needs to support wellbeing even more pressing.

Through using aspects of culinary nutrition and nutrition science, airlines and the wider travel industry can turn nutritious foods into delicious meals, supporting not only passenger’s physical wellbeing but also their mental wellbeing.

Feeling great while flying is an experience I am sure many passengers would like to have.