14 Foods to Brighten Your Mood During the Dark Season

Cropped shot of a group of friends eating pizza

“All disease begins in the gut.”

Even Hippocrates knew this. The good news is that health and vitality also begin in the gut. I am a big believer in this theory, which is why you can always find matcha powder, turmeric, chia seeds, cumin oil and many more mood-lifting foods in my kitchen.

Pumpkin soup in a pumpkin.

In “Brain Maker. The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain,” Dr. David Perlmutter writes that the gut microbes are in charge: Weighing 1.5 kg and with more than 10,000 different species, the bacteria in our gut play a major role in our physical and mental health.

I recently attended a lecture on how nutrition affects our mood. I already knew, for example, that trans fats are not healthy. But I learned that they bring down our mood and can even contribute to depression – news to me! Trans fatty acids are found in natural foods like meat or milk and are formed in the industrial production of foods, as well as the heating of certain fats and oils. Foods containing high amounts of trans fats includes baked goods (cakes, cookies), convenience foods, fast food, french fries and chips.

Therefore, we should avoid these foods not only for our health, but for the sake of our good mood, too. But what we can we do to brighten up our mood (especially during the dark, cold and wet time of the year)?

Glad you asked! It’s easy as pie with the following 14 superfoods:

  1. Fermented vegetables (like pickles)
  2. Yogurt
  3. Sauerkraut
  4. Wild-caught fish (salmon, herring, trout)
  5. Eggs
  6. Avocado
  7. Pumpkin
  8. Eggplant
  9. Olive oil
  10. Coconut oil
  11. Mustard
  12. Turmeric
  13. Horseradish
  14. Raw garlic

For all gourmets: Wine, coffee and chocolate are also necessary for our gut bacteria – of course, enjoyed in moderation.

Man cooking fried eggs.

By including these foods in your meal plan, you are laying the basis for healthy gut microbes, which in turn can lift your mood. Fasting regularly can also have a positive influence on our gut microbes, according to neurologist and bestselling author David Perlmutter. He recommends fasting for 24-72 hours every season.

I am currently trying out the good-mood foods (and fasting)… There is now always a jar of pickles in my fridge. I snack on two of them before breakfast and dinner every day. Doesn’t sound very yummy, but you get used to it 🙂

Have fun trying out these superfoods!



Vera Schwaiger Vera studied dietetics & psychotherapy. She lives her life according to what Einstein once said: "Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving." View all posts by Vera Schwaiger »

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