How what we drink can affect our microbiome and mood.
It’s easy to forget that it’s not just what we eat that can impact the way we feel but what we drink matters too.
Hydration for the mind
Even a small drop in fluid intake has been associated with feeling less calm and content. While mild dehydration has been linked to greater fatigue, lower alertness and more negative emotions including depression and ‘tension’.
It’s a good idea to aim for five to seven large glasses of non-alcoholic fluids a day, but what about tea and coffee?
How does caffeine affect mood?
In moderation, caffeine can help increase alertness and mental focus - but drinking too much could be counterproductive. An excess of caffeine is thought to cause brain fog as well as exacerbate stress and anxiety. Caffeine has been found to increase our levels of the stress hormone cortisol and also to disrupt sleep – which can have a big impact on mood and alertness the following day. A study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that drinking 400mg of coffee could disrupt sleep even if taken 6 hours before bedtime.
If you think your caffeine habit could be affecting your mood, reduce the amount you drink and/or switch to decaf, at least in the afternoon. And remember that soft drinks and chocolate can contain caffeine too.
What about alcohol?
If taken in excess, all alcohol will, unsurprisingly, wreak havoc on your microbiome, sleep and mood – but when drunk in moderation, there are actually some differences in the impact of alcoholic drinks. Research carried out by Kings College London found that red wine drinkers actually had more diverse gut microbiota (thought to be a predictor of general health and wellbeing*) than those who drank white wine, beer and cider. The difference is thought to be down to the polyphenols in red wine, which act as an antioxidant. It’s possible the same may also be true for Guinness which is also high in polyphenols. Before you get carried away though, the benefits to gut bacteria are thought to occur from drinking as little as one glass of red wine every couple of weeks and can also be obtained from polyphenols in food!
This week try to up your hydration with smart drink choices and see if it makes a difference to how you feel. Why not try one of dietitian Dr Sarah Schenker’s mood and microbiome friendly drinks, because good hydration doesn’t have to be boring.