Food directly affects your mood, and it’s not always for the better like when you eat a delicious piece of dark chocolate or a fresh, juicy apple that makes you feel good. Some foods can also make us stressed, anxious, and even downright cranky. Dairy is one of the most commonly reported, problematic foods when it comes to mood issues associated with the popular, ever-controversial food.

Dairy’s protein, casein, has not only been linked to addiction that makes it hard to give up, but also aggression, depression, and even anger. Casein takes a long time to digest, which it’s commonly known for. It’s one of the reasons many people eat cottage cheese or use casein protein – to keep them full a long time. Casein takes so much work for the body and in the process, other parts of the body, such as the brain (directly affected through the health of the gut) are affected. Sugar, processed and GMO foods, along with gluten are other foods commonly linked to mood issues in many individuals.

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If your mood has been suffering and you consume dairy, it might be the sign it’s time to #DitchDairy for good. Here’s why:

The Gut-Brain Connection and Dairy

Quesadillas With Cashew Mozzarella

Source: Quesadillas With Cashew Mozzarella

Not all bouts of irritability can be tied to dairy alone, but it is a common side effect some people have reported with casein, one of the main proteins found in dairy foods. Dr. Kelly Brogran, M.D., says that dairy (and gluten) are two of the most problematic foods linked to mood and consumption directly. It has to do with receptors in the gut and brain that react to the casein and create antibodies as a response. This creates symptoms that could even mimic bipolar disorder and create havoc in the body.

Researchers at UCLA also found that consumption of dairy literally changed the way the brain worked. Researchers report that the gut sends messages to the brain during digestion that cause the neurotransmitter functions in the brain. “Time and time again, we hear from patients that they never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut,” Tillisch said. “Our study shows that the gut-brain connection is a two-way street.”

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Even more serious disorders such as autism have directly been linked to dairy consumption. Reports of aggression and autistic symptoms seem to be higher when dairy is consumed. A dairy-free diet is one of the one most prominent things recommended as well.

So what does that mean for you?

How to Heal the Gut and Improve Your Mood

Cashew Dill Mozzarella 1

Source: Cashew Dill Mozzarella

Thankfully, the gut-brain connection is easy to fix if you believe dairy may be causing a problem for your mood. “There are studies showing that what we eat can alter the composition and products of the gut flora — in particular, that people with high-vegetable, fiber-based diets have a different composition of their microbiota, or gut environment, than people who eat the more typical Western diet that is high in fat and carbohydrates,” Mayer said.

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The end all, be all? Fill your diet up with a whole foods diet, which is packed with fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins and minerals that will boost your mood. You might also experience more amounts of energy, a happier mood, and possibly other health benefits too. Here are some Natural (and Easy) Ways to Replace Your Favorite Dairy Foods.

Recommendation: Download the Food Monster App

Cashew Mozzarella Cheese Sauce

For those of you interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster App — with over 15,000 delicious recipes. It is the largest plant-based recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals, and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.

Here are some great resources to get you started:

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Lead Image Source: slgckgc/Flickr

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