Chronic state of low mood is a very common problem today and it is usually associated especially with depression and anxiety. Today, poor emotional health is one of the main causes of disability not only in developed parts of the world but also in medium and even in low income countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that by the year 2020 depression is going to be the second most prevalent disease worldwide.
Researchers point to the fact that chronic mood problems such as depression and anxiety can be very dangerous as they may significantly increase the risk of stroke, sudden cardiac death, cancer, suicide, addictive behaviours, autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer's disease, hormonal imbalance, migraines and headaches, osteoporosis, asthma, and other health problems.
Below I included a list of various lifestyle and nutritional recommendations as well as popular supplements and herbs that are known to be very beneficial in supporting nervous system and promoting good mood.
However, in order to effectively cope with poor emotional health, you also need to address various underlying lifestyle, nutritional, social, or environmental causes that are listed in the article Depression and Anxiety.
The principle of improving mood and emotional health is very simple and involves a combination of daily physical activity, high in essential nutrients healthy diet, frequent sunlight (or strong artificial light) exposures, spiritual, moral, and emotional empowerment techniques such as meditation, and carefully selected nutritional supplements, super foods, and herbs. This holistic approach has been proved to be not only effective but also free from dangerous side effects.
- Go to sleep as early as possible. Try to sleep at least seven or eight hours a day.
- Learn to control stress and think positive.
- Increase SEROTONIN! We know that serotonin is very important in fighting low mood, depression, anxiety, fatigue and sleep problems. Serotonin is the “feel good” hormone and neurotransmitter which helps us regulate moods and use good judgment. Unfortunately, the older we get the less serotonin we tend to produce. Dr. Carolyn Meltzer’s research has demonstrated that with age serotonin receptors decrease by over 50%. People who struggle with overweight, obesity, and depression, those who commit a serious crime as well as people who commit suicide have a very low level of this extremely important hormone. Unfortunately, if you don’t have enough of serotonin or when the number of serotonin receptors is low then it leads to depression. Serotonin deficiency can be caused by lack of physical activity, insufficient light during the day, refined and low in nutrients diet, use of stimulants (alcohol, nicotine, coffee, tea, cola drinks, chocolate and other caffeine products), or insufficient amount of sleep.
- Exercise in the morning outside to boost serotonin! In the beautiful book „Ministry of Healing” Ellen G. White wrote that “The sick, shut within four walls, look out on houses and pavements, with perhaps not even a glimpse of blue sky or sunshine, of grass or flower or tree. Shut up in this way, they brood over their suffering and sorrow, and become a prey to their own sad thoughts. The pure air, the glad sunshine, the flowers and trees, and outdoor exercise amid these surroundings, are health- and life-giving. Outdoor life is the only remedy that many need. It has a wonderful power to heal diseases caused by the excitements and excesses of fashionable life, a life that weakens and destroys the powers of body, mind, and soul. How glad would they be to sit in the open air, rejoice in the sunshine, and breathe the fragrance of tree and flower!.”
- Light therapy. Expose your body to sunlight, whenever it is possible, or use strong light imitating sunlight.
- Try to find a support group or an individual person that might be able to support you in your efforts to recover.
- Taking care of others, helping people in need, going for a walk, enjoying life and the beauty of nature have been proved to be very effective in improving mood.
- Increase consumption of foods high in tryptophan (to boost serotonin) including cooked soy beans, beans, lentils, Tofu, ground sesame, tahini, and humus. According to Dr. Michael Greger, “Prozac appears to work by boosting serotonin levels but it can cause significant side effects. How about using foods high in serotonin, such as plantains, pineapples, bananas, kiwis, plums, and tomatoes. Plants contain dopamine, serotonin, and melatonin at concentrations high enough to actually alter levels in our bloodstream. We don’t need serotonin in our blood, though; we need it in our brain. Serotonin can’t cross the blood-brain barrier, but the precursor to serotonin can. This precursor is an amino acid called tryptophan that we get from our diet. When people think tryptophan, they think Thanksgiving turkey, but researchers at MIT dispelled those myths about a decade ago. Tryptophan is one amino acid among many found in turkey (or meat and dairy) proteins, and they compete with one another for transport across the blood-brain barrier into the brain. Since tryptophan is present in most animal proteins in relatively small quantities it gets muscled out of the way. When we eat plant foods, though, the carbohydrates trigger a release of insulin that causes our muscles to take up many of the non-tryptophan amino acids as fuel, potentially leaving our tryptophan first in line for brain access. Animal foods can even make things worse. In the experiment, those given a turkey/egg/cheese breakfast experienced a drop in tryptophan levels, whereas those given a waffle/orange juice breakfast saw their levels rise.”
- Make sure you have some complex carbohydrates every day in the form of fresh and dried fruits, bananas, whole grains, etc. as they increase ability of tryptophan to pass blood/brain barrier.
- If possible, switch to a well-balanced plant-based unrefined diet or at least significantly reduce consumption of all animal foods.
- Avoid foods containing arachidonic acid (animal products). According to Dr. Greger, “Arachidonic acid in our diet produces inflammatory compounds which may inflame our brain. The omnivores ate 9 times as much arachidonic acid than the vegetarians, which is not surprising, given that arachidonic acid is not found in plants!” (Michael Greger M.D., Improving Mood Through Diet, 29/09/2011)
- Avoid sugar, fructose and high-fructose corn syrup, white flour products, gluten, stimulants (coffee, tea, green tea, chocolate, cola, etc.), hot spices (irritate nervous system), MSG, fluoride, chlorine and other neurotoxins, trans fats, margarines, etc.
- Although good quality distilled and free from heavy metals Omega 3 fish oil can be very beneficial for the nervous system yet consuming fish seems to have the opposite effects: Fish Consumption and Suicide
- Increase consumption of raw vegetables as cooking destroys antioxidants present in them and most phytonutrients. In order to be healthy we need about 7 cups of raw vegetable salad a day or even better fresh cold pressed vegetable juices.
- Avoid oils (especially soya oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, and vegetable oil), margarines or animal fats, and foods containing them. Use only raw organic coconut oil as it helps sustain energy levels. For salad dressing (not for cooking) use cold-pressed flax oil (very high in Omega 3).
- Avoid all artificial sweeteners! Artificial sweeteners can usually be identified by many different names such as sucralose, saccharin, or aspartame (Splenda, Equal, Sweet n Low). There are almost a hundred side effects listed by the FDA, including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, memory loss, nerve cell damage, Alzheimer’s, migraines, reproductive disorders, brain lesions, weight gain, food cravings, seizures and more.
- Avoid monosodium glutamate (MSG).
- It is better to avoid agave syrup since as it is almost all fructose. Your blood sugar will spike just as it would if you were consuming regular sugar or HFCS. Agave’s rise in popularity is due to a great marketing campaign, but any health benefits present in the original agave plant are processed out.
- Instead of sugar and other harmful sweeteners you can use xylitol, stevia leaf (not Truvia) or organic raw honey in moderation.
- Don’t use stimulants such as caffeine products or alcohol.
- Replace refined salt with Celtic salt, pink salt or unrefined sea salt, especially if you experience cravings for salty foods.
Vitamins & Minerals
- Take L-tryptophan supplements to boost serotonin levels as tryptophan is the precursor of this most important in our body “happy” hormone. 5HTP is the best best tryptophan supplement: 50mg with breakfast and 50mg before bed. According to the scientific paper by Professor T.C. Bridsall, 5-HTP is very well absorbed and effective in boosting serotonin in the brain: “5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) is the intermediate metabolite of the essential amino acid L-tryptophan (LT) in the biosynthesis of serotonin. Intestinal absorption of 5-HTP does not require the presence of a transport molecule, and is not affected by the presence of other amino acids; therefore it may be taken with meals without reducing its effectiveness. Unlike LT, 5-HTP cannot be shunted into niacin or protein production… 5-HTP is well absorbed from an oral dose, with about 70 percent ending up in the bloodstream. It easily crosses the blood-brain barrier and effectively increases central nervous system (CNS) synthesis of serotonin. In the CNS, serotonin levels have been implicated in the regulation of sleep, depression, anxiety, aggression, appetite, temperature, sexual behaviour, and pain sensation. Administration of 5-HTP has been shown to be very beneficial in dealing a wide variety of health problems, including depression, fibromyalgia, binge eating associated with obesity, chronic headaches, and insomnia.” (SOURCE)
- Apart from 5-HTP, take also vitamin B1, B3 (niacin), B6, folic acid, magnesium, and zinc, as they are required to produce serotonin.
- High doses of vitamin B3 (Niacin) for some people turned out to be a quick and effective way to boost mood.
- Millions suffer from magnesium deficiency without even knowing it. It is estimated that 80% of us are deficient in magnesium. In addition, magnesium deficiency is often misdiagnosed because it does not show up in blood tests as only 1% of the body’s Magnesium is stored in the blood. Magnesium enables us to control stress and is vital in our body for proper functioning of the nervous system and brain, promoting good mood, and improves our sleep patterns. It’s been suggested that this is because magnesium is involved in the synthesis and function of GABA and serotonin, neurotransmitters known to be most effective in calming the brain and promoting relaxation. That is why Dr. Berzin calls Magnesium “the nature’s anti-anxiety drug”.
- Sublingual methylcobalamin (well-absorbed form of vitamin B12) such as MetCobin (HealthAid) is another very important nutrient which helped deficient in this vitamin people to improve mood, boost energy and improve sleep quality. Give it a try, all the more since deficiency of this vitamin is regarded as “rampant” today.
- Multivitamin-mineral formula: 1 tablets after breakfast. Please do not buy cheap formulas as their potency is very low and they contain only short list of inorganic ingredients. It must be a good quality formula such as Healthy Mega (HealthAid) which is an excellent multi-vitamin and mineral formula, containing high-strength in B vitamins (vital for the nervous system) and fortified with alfalfa powder, lipase, rutin, citrus bioflavonoids, bromelain, lutein, PABA, lycopene and many other super nutrients. Take no more than 1 tablet, preferably with breakfast or first meal.
- Selenium. Some individuals reported that the amount of selenium in a few Brazil nuts daily is enough to keep low mood at bay. Selenium is also important in thyroid T4 to T3 conversion, and therefore can be helpful in coping with low mood if it is contributed by an underactive thyroid.
- Vitamin D plays important role in regulating brain function. It aids the development of the nervous system and brain, helping postpone decline of the nerve cells. Some of the vitamin D receptors in the brain are found in the areas that are related to the development of low mood. For this reason, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to mental health problems. Due to the lack of sunlight exposures in the UK almost every person is deficient in vitamin D, and the darker the skin the higher the deficiency. Therefore, you also need vitamin D3 supplements (at least 5000 IU a day with breakfast) as its deficiency may also contribute to low mood, anxiety or depression.
- Zinc in our body regulates taste and appetite, improves metabolism, memory, and night vision. Together with vitamin B6 and magnesium zinc is needed to produce tryptophan and then serotonin which regulates our appetite and mood. As far as supplementation is concerned, zinc citrate, picolinate and gluconate are often believed to be the best forms (not more than 50-100 mg a day with main meal). I personally prefer citrate as I have found out it’s the only form of zinc which doesn’t make me nauseated.
- You need omega 3 fatty acids which are also crucial for proper functioning of the nervous system. The best sources: 1-2 tablespoons of soaked in water or juice or plant-based milk for at least 30 minutes chia seeds, or 1-2 tablespoons of ground flax seed with breakfast (shouldn’t be mixed with hot but warm food). Also chlorella or spirulina contain some omega 3 EPA and DHA fatty acids (much better absorbed).
- In addition, take good quality Omega 3 fish oil with meal as fish oil contains EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acids that unlike plant sources do not require to be converted in our body.
- Chlorella. Nothing in the world is better to boost mental and physical energy, remove neurotoxins and heavy metals from the body and regenerate or renew our organism as chlorella. Start from lower doses (2 x a day 3-5 tablets 30 minutes before breakfast and lunch with 2-3 glasses of water). After a week – 2 x 10 tablets). Read more about CHLORELLA and CHLORELLA FOR DEPRESSION
- Take ground organic turmeric (1 teaspoon 3 times a day) or curcumin (turmeric’s key ingredient) capsules. In one study “turmeric gave better results in treating serious cases of depression than Prozac without causing any side effects”. But don’t expect it to work immediately. Researchers compared turmeric and Prozac on 60 participants with major depressive disorder. The first group was on Prozac, the second group received turmeric (1000mg of curcumin), and the third one received both turmeric and Prozac for a course of six weeks. According to the study results, patients taking the combination of turmeric and Prozac improved 77 %, those taking just Prozac improved 65 % and those taking just turmeric improved 62 %. Turmeric, however, unlike Prozac, did not cause any side effects.
- It is interesting that one of the top search terms that people are looking for today using internet browsers is: “L-Theanine for anxiety”. L-Theanine is a unique amino acid compound found almost exclusively in the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). It has become famous for its ability to reduce stress levels and promote calm, relaxed state of mind. In the brain L-Theanine raises alpha-brain wave activity, associated with increased sense of relaxation. L-Theanine has become so valuable and popular relaxant today because at the same time it doesn’t cause drowsiness but even increases alertness and cognitive function of the brain including focus, memory and attention during the day. One of the best L-Theanine benefits is that it is virtually free from side effects, even at larger dosages and used over longer period of time. A Japanese study showed oral L-Theanine administration of a single dose of 200 mg led to increased alpha-brain waves and sense of relaxation. By now we know that brain converts L-Theanine into body’s key relaxing neurotransmitters GABA, dopamine and serotonin. Scientists have found that L-Theanine’s relaxing and anti-stress effect is most evident in people with high baseline anxiety.
- Other herbs that are known to be beneficial for the nervous system and may promote good mood include Oat seed extract (Avena sativa), Melissa leaf, Starflower oil (borage), Evening primrose, Ginkgo biloba, Rhodiola, Saffron, St John’s wart, etc.
- Also supplements (vitamins and minerals), as well as herbs including vitamin B6, B12, zinc, magnesium, soya isoflavones, Evening primrose oil, Starflower Oil, Agnus castus, Wild yam, and many others that help support normal hormonal balance, especially in women, may be beneficial in improving mood.
Good probiotic formula such as MoodProbio (HealthAid) is another one which can improve her mood as people with anxiety do not have enough good bacteria in their colon leading to vitamin B deficiency, LGS and accumulation of toxins. Surprisingly, more recent studies have found conclusive proof that proper balance of bacteria in our gut may have more to do with our mood than any other contributing factor. Researcher found that the microbiota living within the intestines may positively influence our mood as it plays a large role in creating the various brain neurotransmitters and feel good hormones.
Some specific strains of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium (included in the MoodProbio may optimize the production and function of important chemicals like GABA (gamma amino butyric acid), serotonin and dopamine involved in mood and required in the brain for healthy cognitive function and focus. In addition, a healthy bacterial balance in human gastro-intestinal tract is positively correlated with higher levels of amino acid tryptophan which is used by our body to make vital antidepressant and good mood factors such as serotonin and niacin (vitamin B3).
It means that deficiency of certain strains of probiotic bacteria in the colon may contribute to bad mood, anxiety, depression and other problems associated with mental health. In one study participants who took a probiotic supplement every day for thirty days felt happier and reported feeling less affected by stressful situations than those who didn’t take probiotics.
Other studies also suggest that supplements with probiotic bacteria can help to cope with bad mood, depression and anxiety. Due to its excellent formulation the MoodProbio 30 Billion Vegicaps Formula contains the well-studied strains believed to produce neurotransmitters and to regulate the level of inflammation throughout the body including the brain. It may be helpful in improving mood by possible positive influence on the production of B vitamins, amino acid Tryptophan as well as release of antidepressant and feel good hormones such as serotonin, dopamine or GABA. In addition, some strains of probiotic bacteria included in this excellent formula may play a vital role in boosting immunity and coping with various gastro-intestinal discomforts including diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, gas or indigestion.
- If you are on a prescribed medication check whether bad mood is one of its side effects and discuss it with your doctor.
- Boost dopamine levels by regular exercise, avoiding addictions, consuming sunflower seeds, and bananas.
- Music therapy seems to be helpful in improving mood.
Spiritual, Moral & Emotional Empowerment
Most of us know from experience that it is very difficult and often even impossible to control stress, overcome fear, anxiety and depression, or to become a positive-thinking person simply because those negative emotions and fears seem to be a part of our nature. The good news however is that many people claim to find inward peace and great improvement in emotional health as a result of daily heart-felt meditation and spiritual communion with a Higher Power. However, according to medical research this kind of spiritual approach is effective only when combined with a sincere faith in a powerful but at the same time loving and carrying God. On the other hand, believing in a demanding, punishing and vengeful God was associated with increased risk of depression and mental disorders.
Also thoughtful reading an uplifting spiritual literature such as the Gospel of John (found in the Bible), which presents God as always loving, saving, healing, forgiving, and self-sacrificing, is another great way to find inward peace, hope and happiness.
- Journal of Epidemiology. 1997;7:210-213.
- Birdsall TC (1998) 5-Hydroxytryptophan: a clinically-effective serotonin precursor. Altern Med Rev. 1998 Aug;3(4):271-80.
- Michael Greger M.D., Improving Mood Through Diet, 29/09/2011
- British Medical Journal. 1998;316:1714-1719.
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