Boost Your Mood
Personal Trainer Kelowna
Private Gym Training
We all have times when we feel a bit down, especially when the days are shorter and darker and the temperatures are lower, our mood needs a lift. Many of us turn to guilty pleasures like a glass of wine or some chocolate to cheer us up, but these treats can actually have the opposite effect, because after the initial rush of energy that they give us, we’re hit by a drastic comedown, and unfortunately too much caffeine and sugary food can have the same effect.
When your blood sugar drops you might feel tired, irritable and depressed, so you need to eat regularly to keep your sugar level steady, and choose foods that release energy slowly. By starting your day with a hearty breakfast, perhaps porridge with its blood-sugar-stabilising low-glycaemic index (GI), with some nuts and fruit, or maybe eggs which are a great source of choline, a building block of brain tissue, and the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is important for memory and general mental functioning. These will ensure you give yourself a good chance of starting the day in a good, bright mood. Throughout the day it is a good idea to replace a large lunch with smaller portions regularly spaced out.
Nuts are a good mood booster, walnuts, linseeds and pumpkin seeds, are best for omega-3s and monounsaturated fats, which is crucial for brain cell health and neurone communication, whereas according to research people who are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids may be more susceptible to depression and low mood, as these fatty acids make up a large percentage of our brain tissue, about 60% of the dry weight of the brain is fat, with about 30% of that in the form of omega 3. So by eating oily fish, nuts (especially walnuts and almonds), olive and sunflower oils, seeds (such as sunflower and pumpkin), avocados, milk, yoghurt, cheese and eggs, regularly you will keep your brain healthy and improve your mood by keeping brain cells flexible, so the brain’s messaging chemicals can work more effectively.
Selenium is a mood managing mineral, found in Brazil nuts and is also found in fish, sunflower seeds, meat, eggs and wholegrains.
Having a meal spiced with chillies can trigger the brain to release feel-good neurotransmitters known as endorphins, this is due to the natural compound capsaicin which gives chillis their fire.
Make sure you are having enough protein throughout the day, as protein contains amino acids, which make up the chemicals your brain needs to regulate your thoughts and feelings. It also helps control your blood sugar levels. Your protein sources are found in lean meat, fish, eggs, cheese, legumes (peas, beans and lentils), soya products, nuts and seeds. Chicken and turkey breast also help increase your intake of the amino acid tryptophan, which the body uses tryptophan to make serotonin. It also helps to make the hormone melatonin, which regulates sleep. Lean poultry also contains another amino acid called tyrosine, which can help reduce symptoms of depression and help you avoid feeling in a bad mood in the first place. Tyrosine is used to make the hormone adrenaline and low levels of this have been associated with depression.
Vegetables and fruit contain a lot of the minerals, vitamins and fibre needed to keep physically and mentally healthy and by eating a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables every day means you’ll get a good range of these. For instance tomatoes, mushrooms and bananas all contain high levels of potassium which is essential for your whole nervous system, including your brain.
Certain deficiencies in B vitamins have been linked to depression, as serotonin production can actually be hindered by low B vitamin levels. Important B vitamins to look out for include folate, vitamins B3, B6 and B12, so by including leafy green vegetables, such as spinach or broccoli, you will help keep your levels up. Bananas contain the amino acid tryptophan as well as vitamins A, B6 and C, fibre, potassium, phosphorous, iron and carbohydrate. Mood-boosting carbohydrates aid in the absorption of tryptophan in the brain, while vitamin B6 helps convert the tryptophan into the mood-lifting hormone serotonin. This helps to boost your mood and also aids sleep. Because of its ability to raise serotonin levels, tryptophan has been used in the treatment of a variety of conditions, such as insomnia, depression and anxiety.
It’s ok to have a cup of coffee but do watch your caffeine levels. Caffeine is a stimulant and having too much can make you feel anxious and depressed, disturb your sleep (especially if you have it last thing at night), or give you withdrawal symptoms if you stop suddenly. Caffeine is not only in coffee but also in tea, chocolate, cola and other manufactured energy drinks.
Besides eating the right kind of food for your mood, you must also make sure that you drink enough water. Water is extremely important for keeping our bodies functioning properly, by not having enough to drink could make it difficult for you to concentrate and think clearly.
Exercise is one of the most effective morning mood boosters, when you exercise your body releases endorphins, feel-good chemicals, in your brain, all the more reason to speak to your personal trainer and get started on a program that will get your body going and boost your mood.
And if all else fails, have a small square of dark chocolate which causes the brain to release endorphins and boost serotonin levels. In a recent study, 30 people were given 40g of dark chocolate, over 14 days. The results showed that chocolate eaters produced less stress hormones and their anxiety levels decreased. So there you are, permission to eat chocolate!