Five years ago, I started following a plant-based diet to reduce my risk of breast cancer after a scary biopsy. As I began transitioning to eating plants, though, I noticed a handy side effect: I had more energy.
Nothing earth-shattering, mind you. I just felt a little sharper, like I could get more done each day.
The extra boost has persisted, despite the fact that (2-pound days aside) I’m hardly a paragon of dietary perfection! There are days, weeks, and sometimes even months when my good dietary habits get flushed right down the shi… toilet. 😉 Yet I still feel better than I did before going plant-based.
Turns out I’m not alone.
According to new research highlighted by Dr. Michael Greger in a recent video on NutritionFacts.org, depression, anxiety, and productivity all improve with plant-based eating.
But why? What’s going on in the bodies and brains of plant-eating people that helps them feel better and accomplish more?
3 Ways a plant-based diet boosts mood
- Increases antioxidants. People on plant-based diets tend to consume plenty of antioxidants (found in foods like fruits and vegetables).¹ As Dr. Greger notes, antioxidants may help with depression.
- Steps up feel-good serotonin. A single carb-rich meal and a long-term, high-carb diet both improve depression and anxiety, according to Dr. Greger. This may be because the brain makes more serotonin (a mood-boosting chemical) after you eat carbs, as he discusses in a separate video.
- Prevents “brain flame.” Interestingly, Dr. Greger notes that people may feel better because of what they aren’t eating: a substance found mostly in chicken and eggs called arachidonic acid. (Doesn’t it just sound scary?) According to research cited in the video, arachidonic acid can trigger inflammation in the nerves and brain. (Yikes!) Moreover, high levels of arachidonic acid in the blood have been linked to suicide and depression, at least in pregnant women. (Double yikes!) However, when people cut out chicken, eggs, and most other animal products, blood levels of arachidonic acid drop dramatically. So it may pay to fly the coop, so to speak.
So there you have it: The “power boost” from a plant-based diet isn’t just a figment of my imagination! 🙂
Now I want to hear from you: How does your food affect your mood? If you eat a plant-based diet, do you feel it’s made you happier or more productive?
Shared on Healthy Vegan Fridays.References