Good Mood Foods: Alleviating Stress with Micronutrients

You’ve seen it in movies, and probably even done it yourself: After a stressful day, unwinding with a cup of tea, a warm glass of milk or a pint of ice cream. In family traditions and cultures around the world, food and beverages play a vital role in alleviating stressful events and creating feelings of joy. It’s no coincidence that food is intrinsically connected with making people feel better – it’s nutritional psychiatry and the “mood food” market is growing.

Stress and depression, are a common struggle for nearly 500 million and 300 million individuals, respectively, around the world. Eating a healthy diet, incorporating daily exercise and getting enough sleep helps the body to deal with stress and depression, but such a lifestyle may be difficult to adopt and may not be enough for many individuals. Consumers are increasingly turning to dietary-based solutions to help manage their moods.

Why? Nutritional psychiatrists have discovered correlation between diet and behavior.1 More specifically, the brain’s neurotransmitters – like serotonin and norepinephrine – influence how humans feel and think, and these neurotransmitters may be affected by food consumption. In addition, deficiencies of specific micronutrients, such as essential fatty acids and magnesium, may affect mental health. 1 Micronutrients aren’t the only ingredients that food and beverage manufacturers should be cognizant of in food products.1 Behavior-modifying ingredients, like caffeine and alcohol, found in many foods and beverages are linked to anxiety, depression and nervousness. 1

According to a 2017 Mintel report, the market for mood foods is growing as people increasingly look to foods and beverage items with micronutrients, botanicals and bioactives to help boost energy and heighten focus. For example, the report highlights a U.S. study in which 19 percent of coffee drinkers expressed interest in coffee with de-stressing attributes.2 It’s not just coffee that has caught consumers’ eyes when it comes to boosting emotional health through nutritional options. Mintel’s 2016 “Ingredient Insight: Mood Foods” report features leading food and drink products in the emerging global market, like peanut butter containing vitamin B complex and selenium and a milk mix drink containing vitamins B6 and B12 and niacin, each of which touts a number of benefits. Such foods are intended to improve moods, promote mental energy, help support feelings of happiness and more – all through the incorporation of specific foods and micronutrients.

From chewing gum to hot chocolate, applications and product innovations are available for delivering nutritional ammunition to support a healthy state of mind. Consumers are on-board for food options that boost energy, induce relaxation and support healthy sleep – especially if these products are designed for people on-the-go. Portable products, like “one-shot” yogurt drinks and cereal bars, deliver healthy ingredients in a convenient, ready-to-eat and highly portable form.

Compared to other foods that people reach for when feeling stressed , a snack that’s fortified with Omega-3 fatty acids, complex B vitamins, iron, magnesium and vitamin D may be more successful in promoting feelings of being back on track. With this consumer-orientation in mind, the foundation is set for innovating more “mood ingredient” consumer products and is full of opportunity.  Of course, especially when dealing with mood, taste and convenience are of paramount importance to ideation and formulation.

Fortitech Premixes’ tech paper “Chill: Good Mood Foods” offers additional, valuable consumer insights and tips on key nutrient combinations for manufacturers. Download the tech paper, or use our Solution Starter to tell us about the products you are interested in developing.

 References:

  1. (2016) Ingredient Insight: Mood Foods (p. 2 -26). Mintel. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2uXMc0A
  2. (2017) Mood to Order (p. 2). Mintel. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2gX5U6S.