Mood Food & Mental Performance

Our research identifies components from natural produce that promote calmness or enhance mental performance.

Our moods are influenced by many factors including hormones, heredity, drugs, alcohol, our environment and past experiences, as well as by food. For many years, the properties in plants have been known to affect how we feel, and many pharmaceuticals are based on plant compounds.

Plant & Food Research has found people want food products with natural fruit-based compounds that they can eat to help to reduce stress and anxiety. We use classic pharmacology and neuroscience to find compounds and mixes of compounds derived from plant foods that influence mood, and to discover the mechanisms involved. Our knowledge of the gut-blood and blood-brain barriers is helping us to develop technologies to ensure the bioavailability of beneficial compounds. We test these compounds and delivery technologies for their effects on psychological stress in vitro, in vivo and in human clinical trials.

This research will underpin the development of food ingredients, products and beverages that will be scientifically proven to make people feel better or to help them to relax when they are feeling stressed.

Mental Performance

There is a growing knowledge about what influences performance during demanding mental tasks like decision-making and intensive learning, and how that may be enhanced during events linked to mental stress such as examinations, interviews and major projects. 

Plant & Food Research is looking at natural components from plant-based foods and how they affect mental performance factors, both individually and in combination. Promising combinations are further assessed in cognitive and behavioural studies. Information from this research will be used to develop new food concepts and products that have proven beneficial effects on brain performance and memory.