SAN ANTONIO – When the kids went off to college, Kim-Adele Rosner went on a mission to get healthier. She began exercising and eating better.
"I am in a much better mood," she said. "I'm able to focus more. I have a lot of energy."
She switched up her diet to include more high-protein foods, healthy fats and a lot fewer carbs.
Years of research have demonstrated that a healthy diet can help cut the risk of illnesses, including diabetes and some cancers. Now, a growing number of studies suggest that food choices may have an effect on our emotions.
More Consumer Reports stories on KSAT.com:
Frozen foods worth your freezer space
A Mediterranean diet that includes olive oil, nuts, fatty fish and whole grains contains a lot of folate and vitamin B12, which have been associated with a reduced risk of depression.
Why your food choices may affect your mood isn't totally clear. But some scientists have a feeling it may be related to your microbiome, the ever-changing mix of good and bad bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract.
"The healthy bacteria in your digestive system produce neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that help control your mood. In fact, about 90 percent of serotonin, which you usually think of as a brain chemical, is actually produced in your digestive system," said Consumer Reports health editor Trisha Calvo.
Calvo said yogurt is great to eat because it contains probiotics, a good bacteria. Garlic, leeks, onions and asparagus are known to feed good bacteria.
Veggies may boost your mood in another way, too.
"Vegetables have fiber, which helps feed healthy bacteria," Calvo said. "And research has shown that the more vegetables you eat, the better your mood. Spinach, Swiss chard and fresh herbs like basil are among the veggies that offer the biggest mood boost."