According to microbiome researcher and BIOHM Health co-founder Mahmoud Ghannoum, eating chicken can have a direct effect on your mood because of how the amino acid tryptophan found in this meat impacts your gut health (via Parade). “[Tryptophan] has been linked to higher levels of the hormone serotonin (the ‘feel good’ hormone) in our brain,” explained Ghannoum, who also highlighted the abundance of vitamin B12, iron, copper, zinc, and choline in the popular poultry.
Tryptophan is also linked with better sleep, energy levels, and immune system health. A 2021 study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences found that as you get older, your body requires tryptophan to fight off inflammation and maintain a healthy gut microbiome. As study author Dr. Carlos M. Isales, who is also the co-director of the MCG Center for Healthy Aging and chief of the MCG Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, shared, “We think the microbiome plays an important role in the aging process and we think one of those players in the aging is tryptophan, which produces metabolites that affect every organ function” (via EurekAlert!).
The study also revealed that low levels of tryptophan were linked with a lower level of Mucispirillum and Blautia, two types of gut-friendly bacteria that are also low in people with irritable bowel diseases (Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis).