Are you one of the over 20 million Americans with a mood disorder or the 40 million with an anxiety disorder or just find yourself struggling a lot of the time to stay in a good mood? If so, here's some natural ways to boost your mood with lifestyle changes and nutrition.
1. Exercise For Good Mood
According to Henry Emmons, MD, a psychiatrist with the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota, research shows that exercise for depression can be as good as depression medications. He often prescribes walking, biking, jogging and other rhythmic type exercises to combat depression. In support of this position, the American Journal of Preventive Medicine published a study in January 2005 finding that 3 hours a week of moderate activity can have a positive impact on mood. Other studies report finding benefits of running and bike riding regularly after a 12-week period reduced symptoms of depression by almost 50% and that exercising workouts can provide a mood boost for as long as 12 hours.
2. Nutrition For Good Mood
People that are not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids in their diet are more susceptible to depression according to the results of a study at the University of Pittsburgh. Fish oil high in omega-3 fatty acids has been found through research studies to help prevent depression by affecting the brain's neurotransmitter pathways. Omega-3 is vital to brain function and can be found in bluegreen algae, walnuts, fatty fish, and flaxseed. Omega-3 also is available in supplement form and at least 2,000 to 4,000 milligrams is the amount Henry Emmons, MD recommends to help with mood enhancement. Fish and in particular raw fish, are also a source of Vitamin D which can increase serotonin levels. If you don't like raw fish then you can also get Vitamin D from fortified cereal, dairy and soy products, and white button mushrooms as well as from being out in the sunshine. Serotonin is the brain chemical that produces feelings of calmness and happiness and regulates mood. Eating foods with tryptophan helps in producing serotonin. Nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds and cashews are high in tryptophan. Tryptophan levels can also be increased by eating "good" carbohydrates like whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Another vitamin important to serotonin production is B9 or folate. Folate aids the brain in producing serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine which are all brain chemicals affecting mood. Folate can be found in dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach and in Brussel sprouts, beans such as pinto and garbanzo, asparagus, peanuts, soybeans, liver, lentils and sunflower seeds. Low Vitamin B6 levels can also contribute to depression. Foods high in Vitamin B6 include papaya, oranges, tuna, chicken, turkey, rice and wheat bran, garlic, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds.
3. Supplements For Good Mood
You have probably heard of St. John's Wort as an herbal supplement used for anxiety. It has also been shown helpful for sleep disorders, mood stabilizing and mild forms of depression. Research has not shown it effective for severe depression. There are some medications, such as blood thinners, antidepressants and birth control pills, which do not react well with St. John's Wort, so be sure you consult your healthcare provider before using it.
Another supplement you may not be as familiar with for mood boosting is SAMe (S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine) that comes from an amino acid. It is usually produced naturally by the body, but production decreases as we get older and therefore supplementation may be called for. At least 28 studies we found have reported results showing SAMe supplementation making improvements in depression symptoms. This is another supplement however that you should check out with your healthcare provider for safety especially if you have diabetes, low blood pressure or anxiety disorder.
4. Social Interaction For Good Mood
Social interaction helps with good mood in several ways. First, having places to go to interact with others gets us up and out in the world instead of sitting home alone and isolated. We are also more likely to stay active, make the effort to look and feel our best, and be mentally alert when we have activities on our social calendars. Studies report you can increase your chance of being in a good mood by 9% just by being around happy people. If you are in a low mood, stay away though from others that are in negative states as that can add to your low mood.
If you have restrictions that prevent you from getting out much, you can still stay social and connected to others. Have visitors over to your house, stay connected with friends and family through the computer with Skype, FaceTime, interactive apps, email or chat rooms. Don't completely depend on computer or phone time for your interactions though. A study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill says you need human touch as it can release serotonin and other endorphins to improve mood. If you absolutely have no way to get that type of human intimacy on a regular basis, then get a pet. A University of Missouri–Columbia study found that 15 minutes petting your dog or cat releases serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin, as well as lowers cortisol which is a stress hormone.
5. Algae - A Good Mood Food
We've all heard fish referred to as brain food and that's not just an old saying, it's true. Essential fatty acids make up the majority of our brain and nerve cells and we don't naturally produce these ourselves. They need to come from food and guess what food is really rich in these fatty acids... yep, fish. Now take that a step further. Why are fish so high in EFAs? Because they eat algae which is a natural source of fatty acids. Eating coldwater fish and/or taking AFA bluegreen algae supplements gives you the fatty acids needed for stabilizing mood and staying upbeat. The form of bluegreen algae that is the heart of the algae with the cell wall removed is particularly useful for enhancing brain activity and feeding the blood that feeds the brain.
Then there is this powerful superfood capsule of bluegreen algae combined with reishi and oyster mushrooms, ubiquinol, and polyphenols from olives that was created to activate cellular energy for heart support. Ubiquinol is a form of Coenzyme Q10 that is found in almost all our cells, tissues and organs and is a potent antioxidant that has been shown in studies to have antidepressant properties. Reishi mushrooms are known for their ability to help the body to maintain balance which can include emotional and mental balance and oyster mushrooms are high in B vitamins that aid brain health so you can see how this combination of superfoods can be a tremendous aid for mood support.
Another algae supplement that has ingredients found to help with good mood is this one that combines bluegreen algae, eleuthero, Ginkgo biloba, Lion's Mane mushroom, bee pollen, wheatgrass juice, and noni which all help contribute to brain health and function and was created especially for high-performance athletes and those with active lifestyles who depend on concentration and mental clarity. This combination means support to help you function when stress overwhelms you and put your mood back on an even keel.
If you find your mood suffering give these natural solutions a try. You'll find life so much more enjoyable when you feel good and upbeat.