Got the Blues?  You Are What You Eat

Food has the amazing ability to enhance your moods. Certain foods can excite you to help with motivation. Others can provide relaxation when you need it. That’s because many foods contain substances that break down during the digestive process to affect neurotransmitters, the chemicals in

Cold water, salmon is good for your heart and good for your mood.

Salmon for a Good Mood and Heart

the brain’s network that regulate moods. As a result, your emotions and behaviors can change.

A lack of certain nutrients may cause blue moods or even depression. Researchers, for example, have found deficiencies of omega-3 fatty acids in some people with depression and mood swings, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. If you’re feeling down, you might try cold-water fish, such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines or herring, which contain rich amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts and flaxseeds also have omega-3s.

Deficiencies in folic acid, a B complex vitamin, may lead to depression. A lack of folic acid lowers serotonin levels in the brain and may cause sad feelings. Eating green vegetables and fruit, which contain folic acid, may improve your moods. Low levels of selenium may result in anxiety, depression or irritability. Selenium, an antioxidant that researchers believe also fights certain cancers, can be found in whole grains, legumes, beef, poultry, fish, Brazil nuts and walnuts.

Foods can also be used to help you through your daily routine. Ever wonder why folks throughout the generations have started their morning with meat and eggs for breakfast? It’s because dairy products and meat, along with fish and poultry, are rich in protein. High-protein foods help boost energy, but protein also breaks down into amino acids to improve mental alertness. Tyrosine, an amino acid from protein, travels from the bloodstream to the brain where it helps increase levels of neurotransmitters, including dopamine and epinephrine, which lift moods to improve your

Roast turkey is an excellent source of the relaxant, tryptophan.

Turkey - A Great Midnight Snack

concentration.

Carbohydrate-rich foods, such as whole grain bread and pasta, potatoes, rice and corn, work best for moods during an evening meal or when you want to relax. Carbohydrates help release more tryptophan, an amino acid, into the brain where it converts into serotonin. An increase in serotonin levels provides you with calming effects and even improves your sleeping patterns.   If  you don’t eat carbs, you can get even more relaxing tryptophan from turkey meat.  See another Jerry Shaw article on controlling your moods naturally, this one through exercise.

Fighting Depression with Exercise

Sound Mind and a Sound Body

Exercise increases levels of endorphins, feel-good chemicals in the brain that relieve or reduce anxiety and depression. The Mayo Clinic points out that exercise boosts the immune system to overcome negative moods when worries or fears threaten you. Anxiety and depressive thoughts disappear as your self-confidence takes over because of exercise.

If you’re not used to exercising, start walking or riding a bike for 10 minutes at a time before building up to enjoying your routine 30 to 60 minutes a day on most days of the week. Exercising doesn’t have to be strenuous to be beneficial. Just taking a walk when a stressful situation arises can relieve tension that causes anxiety or depression. Try to fit an aerobics or dancing program into your schedule to make exercising fun and enjoy yourself with the company of others.

Tai chi has become a favorite exercise for many seniors. The slow, gentle movements of the arms and legs help improve balance significantly. Many people develop balancing problems as they age and find improvement after just one or two tai chi sessions.

Yoga and meditation are exercises that provide a calming effect to improve your mood. You can repeat a positive phrase to yourself while performing these relaxation techniques to rid yourself of negative thoughts that compound anxiety and depression. Yoga and meditation also include controlled breathing methods that can help lower blood pressure and improve the heart rate, Harvard Health Publications reports. You can join a yoga, tai chi or mediation class at your local community center or library.