Grumpy, snappish, sulky or depressed, cynical, gloomy or brooding - all these words best describe a person's mood, a lousy mood. Work pressure, traffic jam, kids fighting, dishwasher breaking down, bad news, reasons vary. Sometimes, there is no apparent reason at all.
Small changes in moods, have in fact, been accepted as a natural part of most people's life. The shift from feeling nice to feeling bad or vice versa can happen in matter of hours on the same day. It is hard to say when it crept in and harder to trace a primary source. But, its effect is definite. It casts a pervasive dullness.
Are there ways to beat the blues? Feel good thoughts, feel good colors, feel good music, and feel good friends even feel good shopping - all these are different ways that contribute to feeling better. Did you know that mood enhancers when combined with smart life cycle choice promote vibrant mental health? Check out all about natural mood enhancer, mood enhancing foods and mood enhancing supplements that help improve mood and greatly change disposition and frame of mind.
Mood and mood enhancers
Mood refers to the state of mind or emotions. It has a positive or negative valence, meaning positive mood or negative mood. Everything seems to be in harmony when you are in a good mood. Your attitude is positive, energy levels are high and so is the confidence level. In contrast, a bad mood typically means feeling grumpy, snappy with low energy levels.
So, being in a good mood is beneficial. It is healthy. Good mood supports your body in many ways. It helps prevent chronic fatigue, headaches, indigestion, and backaches, sleep disturbances and changes in appetite. Research on the subject has shown that when a person is in a good mood, there is clarity of thought.
Being in a good mood helps flexibility, creativity and problem-solving ability. People in a positive mood perform better, are more persistent, try harder, and are motivated than people with neutral mood. The role of mood enhancers, be it mood enhancing foods, mood enhancing supplements or natural mood enhancers is the same - to make the user feel good.
Mood enhancers naturally increase serotonin levels in the brain, decrease anxiety and calm the nerves. Mood enhancers play a vital balancing act especially when there are symptoms of a depletion of mood-enhancing chemicals or feel-good brain chemicals in the body. It could be one or combination of reasons when the natural mood-enhancing chemicals in the brain become deficient.
- Genetics play a part, due to inherited deficiencies of the genes that determine mood and personality traits.
- Prolonged stress wherein the precious brain chemicals are used too quickly leaving behind minimal or no reserve and/or inability of the brain to keep up with the demand of feel-good chemicals.
- Intake of substances that inhibit production of natural mood-enhancing chemicals in the brain.
- Denying proteins is bad. The brain relies on essential proteins for manufacturing mood-enhancing chemicals.
- Overuse of stimulants and blood-sugar problems are major contributor to low moods.
- Certain medications, including antihistamines, tranquilizers, and sleeping pills, narcotics, and recreational drugs, can also interfere with neurotransmitters, leading to depression.
Natural mood enhancers
There are effective and side-effect free approaches to enhance 'feel good' chemicals in the brain. Natural mood enhancers bring about an improvement in mood by encouraging the production of serotonin and other feel good chemicals such as norepinephrine in the human brain. Also, natural mood enhancers ensure that our energy levels don't dip. Natural mood enhancers include,
Eating right: Nutritious food to sustain our hunger and provide vital nutrients essential for healthy functioning. The production of serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine and endorphin and other important neurotransmitters are affected by the quality and quantity of the nutrients in our body.
Exercising: Exercise is a natural mood booster. Feel good chemicals serotonin and dopamine get released as we exercise our bodies regularly.
Sound sleep: Good sleep rejuvenates the body and the mind. Lack of sleep slows down the production of serotonin.
Mood enhancers come in different form and content. For some, it could be engaging in certain activities or pursuing a hobby which packs up the worries and peps up mood. It could be shopping, networking with friends, listening to music or reading books, nature watching, playing guitar or the saxophone or simply watching favorite movies, dancing etc. The list is endless.
Mood enhancing foods
Most foods are natural mood enhancers. Nutritional deficiency can severely alter mood. Likewise, good nutrition can have a strong positive influence on moods. Mood enhancing foods are food with 'mood uplifting' capabilities, foods that have the essential dietary nutrients, including vitamins, proteins, essential fatty acids and amino acids.
That makes some foods far better than others for enhancing mood. There is increasing evidence that diet and specific foods or dietary supplements can help with mild and sub-clinical mood fluctuations. Here are mood-enhancing foods that can trigger the brain to provide happy feelings.
Chocolates: Chocolates are packed with chemicals that can enhance mood. The sweet flavor and creamy texture in chocolates cause a very effective release of endorphins, which are mood-elevating hormones. Anandamide, caffeine, oleolethanolamine, N-linoleoylethanolamine and theobromine are chemicals naturally present in chocolate that act as neurotransmitters have a mood stimulating effect in the brain.
Additionally, tryptophan and other such amino acids present in chocolate stimulate serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid production; these are neurotransmitters that can reduce anxiety levels in people.
Irrespective of the amount consumed, chocolate can bring about alleviation in mood. Sugar in chocolate is a well known feel good mood enhancer.
Eating chocolates stimulates the brain's opioid production, responsible for diminishing pain sensations, enhancing pleasurable ones and creating a sense of overall well-being. Dark chocolate is very good compared to milk chocolate but has to be consumed in moderation. Cocoa and dark chocolate contain significant amounts of antioxidant flavanols, which have been shown to improve blood flow in the brain.
Bananas: Bananas and kiwifruit are great for boosting mood. Bananas not only aid in digestion, have high carbohydrates for energy but assist in producing more serotonin. Kiwi fruit is a good source of vitamin c and antioxidants.
Strawberries: Strawberries are a natural way to stabilize mood. It contains soluble fiber, which helps slow the digestion process, which can, in turn, keep blood-sugar levels stable. Swings in blood sugar levels impact mood. Berries in general contain antioxidants, which are critical for the health of the brain
Tea: Herbal Tea or green tea, drink tea in moderation. It is good for your health and temper. Tea can bring about a positive impact in your brain and mood.
Baked or mashed potatoes: Eating baked or mashed potato assists in release of serotonin in the brain. However, potato chips because of the fat factor do not have the same advantage.
Whole grain foods: Whole grain cereal instead of a sugar cereal contains plenty of folic acid, which is necessary for preventing antidepressants in the body. Also, whole grain cereal can speed up body's metabolism. Whole grain breads and cereals are rich in Vitamin B6, an important brain vitamin; all these can improve blood flow to the brain.
Other whole grain foods like brown rice, plain oatmeal help trigger a slow, sustained release of insulin, which allows a gradual rise in serotonin levels. Serotonin boosts mood, curbs food cravings, and contributes to regular sleep. Too little serotonin can cause depression, sleep difficulties, and aggressive behavior.
Seafoods: Seafood like fish, oysters, clams and crab are rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Fish is a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, protein and vitamin B 12, an important component for producing serotonin. For desired results, choose low-mercury and cold-water fish such as wild salmon, trout, herring, catfish, cod and flounder.
Nuts: Flax seeds are rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Almonds and walnuts, beans such as kidney and soybeans rich in Omega 3 fatty acids if part of a regular diet can contribute to improving mood.
Lean meats: Lean meats such as chicken, pork and beef provide an amino acid called tyrosine. Tyrosine boosts the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, brain messengers that can help being more alert and focused. Meats are also good source of vitamin B12, which fights insomnia and depression.
Green leafy vegetables: Regular consumption of spinach, lettuce and leafy green assist in preventing folate deficiency which has been linked with depression. Broccoli, dark green cabbage, peas are rich in folate. Egg yolks contain choline and folate, which can enhance mood. Asparagus is high in Vitamin B and folate.
Mood enhancing supplements
At times your diet may fall short of nutritional requirements. The body signals that there is need for extra quantities of certain ingredients to help in improving the mood. Mood enhancing supplements are nothing but special sources of certain chemicals that help to elevate our mood.
Mood enhancing supplements are widely used to gain the much needed emotional support during times of emotional turmoil, traumatic events and depression. Check how mood-enhancing supplements improve serotonin production, improve mood and maintain it at optimal levels.
Omega 3 fatty acids oils: Omega 3 fatty acid oil is a supplement for those who are abstain from consumption of omega 3 fatty acid foods like fish, oysters, clams and crabs.
5 HTP: 5-HTP helps the central nervous system synthesize serotonin, has a calming effect and enhances mood. 5-HTP is not present in the foods we eat. 5 HTP is a chemical, which the body makes from tryptophan. However, eating foods with tryptophan found in turkey, chicken, milk, potatoes, pumpkin, sunflower seeds, turnip and collard greens and seaweed does not contribute to increasing 5 HTP.
St. John's Wort: This is a yellow-flowered plant Hypercium perforatum that contains several chemical compounds that help stabilize brain chemicals. The name St. John's wort apparently refers to John the Baptist, as the plant Hypercium perforatum blooms around the time of the feast of St. John the Baptist in late June.
Vitamins: B vitamins have many roles to play in ensuring optimal brain functions. Vitamins B6, B12, and folic acid are most important in terms of enhancing mood. B vitamins should be taken in combination to avoid possible side effects.
SAMe: S-Adenosyl Methionine (SAMe) is a substance, which occurs naturally in the body. SAMe increases the production of serotonin in our brain. It is present in every living cell in the body. But levels tend to decline with age. Adding SAMe supplements can help balance the depletion.
Others : Other vitamins, which may contribute to better mood, are zinc, selenium, calcium, Vitamin D, iron and magnesium
Before using mood-enhancing supplements, discuss with your health care provider. Mood enhancing supplements may cause side effects, trigger allergic reactions or interact with prescription and nonprescription medicines you might be taking. You may also wish to see a health professional in the field of nutritional medicine, who can develop an individualized program.
On the whole a holistic approach that includes making healthy dietary choices, maintaining proper sleeping patterns, avoiding habits like smoking and drinking that can negatively affect brain chemistry, plenty of exercise to keep body functioning well, adopting relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation can get your moods in check and your life back in balance.