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  • Writer's pictureSally Marchini, APD BND

5 Foods To Boost Your Mood During Pregnancy

Are you feeling stressed, anxious, overwhelmed during your pregnancy? Many pregnant women experience these thoughts during their pregnancy journey as a result of a mixture of different factors which can be wide ranging and can overlap to add extra stress.

In this blog we’ll help you understand how oxidative stress and inflammation contribute to these stressors that you’re already experiencing, and what the best foods are for you to combat them to help you enjoy your pregnancy with fewer worries.

Oxidative Stress and Inflammation

Oxidative stress is when molecules called free radicals increase in number and begin to damage the healthy tissue in our body, especially in our brain.

Inflammation is when there is a lot of pressure on the brain once again causing damage to the brain and how it functions properly.

This damage caused by oxidative stress and inflammation affects our mood causing anxiety and depression. By choosing more of the foods we’ve listed below you can provide your body with more antioxidants which form a barrier around the brain to fight off the free radicals, helping to prevent damage to the brain. This protection of the brain from these foods has a positive effect on our mood especially reducing symptoms of anxiety depression.

5 Foods to Boost your Mood with Food during Pregnancy

The foods described below are part of a Mediterranean based diet and studies have shown beneficial results for its positive effect on enhancement of mood and reduction in depressive symptoms.

1. Whole Foods- Consuming a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes (lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, baked beans, etc) and nuts within the daily diet provides the body with antioxidants and other nutrients which help fight against cell damage in the brain which effects mood and emotions.

2. Choose Omega 3- Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids have a profound effect on decreasing rates of inflammation in the body especially in the brain. Inflammation in the brain can cause mood changes and depressive feelings, therefore with a decrease in inflammation a boost in mood will occur. Deep sea fish such as salmon and sardines are great sources of Omega- 3s.

3. Lean protein- Including a variety of these foods provides the body with protein for active growth of the baby. Once digested this protein can help also to maintain blood sugar levels to help moderate energy levels as well as stabilising mood through the breakdown of the protein into amino acids, especially tyrosine. Tyrosine has an effect on increasing the levels of hormones to positively enhance our mood. This can also be achieved on a vegetarian diet, but you will need to discuss this further with your dietitian.

4. Daily probiotic and prebiotic- Probiotics are the good bacteria within out gut, that aid in digestion of the food we eat but also inhibit harmful bacteria, therefore promoting a healthy digestive tract and overall benefiting the immune system. Examples of probiotic foods include: yoghurt and sauerkraut.

Prebiotics are the healthy foods that resist digestion so they can make it through to the large intestine where they feed the probiotics (good bacteria). By feeding the probiotics their population number increases therefore working more effectively in digestion. Studies have shown that consuming prebiotics every day can reduce the stress hormone (cortisol) hence improving your mood. A healthy gut results in a healthy brain and therefore mood, so ensure you’re eating foods like whole grains, legumes and foods made with these every day.

5. Limit processed and high saturated fatty foods- Limit highly processed, refined and high fat foods such as cakes, biscuits, deep fried foods, burgers etc. These foods provide energy but no nutrients for the pregnancy and contribute to excess weight gain and inflammation. Highly processed foods can negatively impact the brain through cell damage, therefore decreasing mood boosting hormones.

Take Home Message

By increasing your intake of good healthy foods such as a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, probiotics, prebiotics, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and limiting highly processed foods during pregnancy, you can have a positive effect on your gut bacteria and protect your brain from free radicals and inflammation resulting in a positive effect on mood and a decrease in symptoms of depression.

Hopefully now you’ll have a better feel about how to keep your mood more stable and positive just by making a few delicious changes to your dietary regime.

If you feel that you’d like further advice on this important topic we suggest booking an appointment with our dietitians at Marchini Nutrition.

Thanks to student dietitian Holly Pickford for her contribution to this post.

Accredited Practising Dietitian Sally Marchini at Marchini Nutrition is one of the specialist dietitians from the Australia-wide network Nutrition Plus who offer more than just nutrition advice - they offer experience, problem solving, understanding and most importantly compassion to assist you on your health journey in preconception, pregnancy, postnatally and for specific health concerns. Sally can be contacted via her Marchini Nutrition website, the Nutrition Plus website, by telephone on 02-4971-0770, or by email at

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