720.370.1800 - Intl 844.331.1993
Select Page
Nutrition and Mood

Nutrition and Mood

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Healthy Body, Happy Heart

 

As a therapist and life coach, over the years I have gained a healthy respect for the limits of traditional talk therapy. The truth is that we’re complex, and many things factor in to how you feel day-to-day. Simply “working through the past” or gaining insight into your self (while fantastic) is not usually enough to actually change how you feel. Certainly, our thoughts impact our feelings, as do our life circumstances. When you make positive changes in either of those areas, you’re likely to feel better.

However, something that many therapists and life coaches (and physicians, and psychologists for that matter) miss is the dramatic interplay between physical and emotional wellness. The mind / body connection is not new-age hocus-pocus; it’s a fact. What is happening in your body impacts the way you think and feel. Likewise, the way you think and feel impacts your health. (I could bore you with a detailed explanation of the fight-or-flight stress response and it’s impact on cognition, immunity, sleep cycles and more, but I’m going to restrain myself today). Winning!

Nutrition and Mood

One big piece of the mind / body connection that has been largely overlooked in the past by the mental health community is the relationship between your nutrition and your mental and emotional wellbeing. Being deficient in certain vitamins and nutrients can have a significant impact on the way you feel, and according to recent research, by treating these deficiencies many “mental health” symptoms can be relieved. [More: Natural Remedies for Depression]

This is big news, particularly because it is very easy to become nutritionally malnourished in America these days. Much of the standard, processed American fare that is consumed by most of us regularly (pastas, sodas, fast foods, chemical sweeteners, pretty much anything bread-based or with potatoes in it) has little to no nutritional value.

Even conventional fruits and vegetables, if they’re grown on overworked depleted soil supplemented with sub-par chemical fertilizers can be nutritionally depleted and therefore have less nutritional value for you than you might think. It’s easy as pie (eating pie, that is) to become deficient in important vitamins and minerals, which can lead to a multitude of health problems as well as create feelings of anxiety and depression. Strategic incorporation of foods high in vitamins and minerals, and/or vitamin supplements may be extremely helpful in lifting your mood or calming a worried mind.

I’ll go over a few vitamins and minerals that have been found to be linked with mood, for your information. My big disclaimer here is that I am not a nutritionist or dietician and can’t offer any specific advice on supplements that you should or should not be taking given your unique health situation. If you think that you may be deficient and would like to get on a good nutritional plan I would recommend sitting down with a registered dietician or a naturopathic doctor.

Nutrients That Are Known To Impact Mood

Iron and Depression

  • If you’ve ever been anemic I don’t need to tell you that if you’re deficient in iron you feel awful. Tired, lethargic, inability to concentrate, loss of interest in activities you once found pleasurable…. Sounds familiar? Sounds like something from an anti-depressant commercial, doesn’t it? The effect of not having enough iron is similar to that of depression, particularly in the physical experience of depression (tired, withdrawn) but also in the experience of isolation, loss of pleasure, loss of energy, and overall depressed mood. Anemia (iron deficiency) is associated with higher levels of depression. It’s not unheard of for someone’s chronic “depression” to finally lift when their nutritional deficiencies are addressed appropriately.
    • Fun facts about iron: Iron is more absorbable from natural food sources than it is from supplements, so it’s best to get it from dietary sources if you can. It’s also more absorbable when taken with vitamin C. There is lots of iron in red meat, but if you avoid red meat or are a vegetarian and not conscientiously eating other sources of iron like spinach and broccoli, you can easily become deficient in this mineral. Iron supplements can be very helpful, however you can also take too much iron, so a safe bet would be to find a high quality multivitamin with iron in it.
    • For more info on depression, check out: Is it Depression?

Magnesium and Anxiety

  • I recently found out something fascinating about magnesium. It’s actually often given to people in hospital emergency rooms because deficiency in this mineral is so widespread, and deficits are associated with serious health problems like muscle cramps, heart spasms, high blood pressure, abnormal heart beats, and even seizures—as well as intense anxiety. Speaking generally, high amounts of magnesium are associated with relaxation, calm and “looseness” whereas low amounts of magnesium are associated with irritability, anxiety, and tenseness, both physically and mentally.
    • Fun facts about magnesium and mood: You can take magnesium as a supplement (but do your research, as some variants are more absorbable than others) but anther good way to get magnesium in your system in through Epsom Salt (Magnesium Sulfate) in your bath. If you want to go the dietary route, add dark leafy greens and beans to your diet.

B Vitamins, Depression, Anxiety and Energy Levels

  • These important vitamins play a role in the formation of neurotransmitters, the brain chemicals that mediate interactions between neurons and other structures in your brain. When your neurotransmitters are depleted, or not in balance people frequently experience a disturbance in their mood as well as in their overall energy. Antidepressant medications work by increasing the amount of available neurotransmitters you have via various mechanisms. It’s been found that people deficient in B vitamins often have symptoms of depression as well. There are a number of important B Vitamins but the major players associated with depression are Thiamin, Folate, B-6, and B-12.
    • Fun facts about B Vitamins: Foods with the most B Vitamins tend to be animal products like fish, red meat, eggs, and dairy. Unless they are very conscientious about getting enough of these vitamins from other sources (whole grains, nuts and seeds) Vegans may be at risk of becoming deficient, especially in B12. However there are plant based B12 supplements.

Vitamin D, Depression and Illness

  • Having low levels of vitamin D has been associated with depression, fertility issues, inflammatory responses and a less efficient immune system.
    • Fun facts about Vitamin D: Milk products are commonly fortified with vitamin D, but in addition to drinking milk you have a fast, easy and free source: Sunlight. Spending just a few minutes in the sun with bare arms and/or legs will give you more than enough vitamin D to boost your mood. Vitamin D deficiency due to lack of sunlight in cold, dark winter months may be one factor associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). People with darker skin living in northern latitudes and dairy-avoiders are even more vulnerable to this deficiency. Reason #374 to get some fresh air and exercise outside!

Fish Oil, Mood and Cognition

  • The helpful fats in fish oils contain molecules that help create the neurotransmitter seretonin, and also seem to make your cells more permeable to the neurotransmitters that regulate your mood. There’s enough recent evidence between the impact of fish oil on mental health symptoms that a forward-thinking psychiatrist may even prescribe them to you along with your anti-depressant medication.
    • Fun facts about fish oil: You can get your daily dose of Omega 3’s, the active ingredient in fish oil through natural sources such as fatty fish and flax-seed oil. However, if salmon burgers are not your thing, fish oil supplements are widely available now. Supplements vary in quality. Check labels to make sure that your selection has been tested for mercury and other contaminants.

Probiotics and Mood

  • We know that the neurotransmitter serotonin impacts mood. But did you know that the second largest serotonin-producing factory in your body, after your brain, is actually your gastrointestinal tract? Numerous studies have shown that the quality of your healthy gut bacteria can have a significant impact on your serotonin production and consequently, your mood. Fascinatingly, one research study took gut bacteria from happy mice and sad mice, and swapped them. The sad mice demonstrated more behaviors associated with happiness in mice (sniffing? running on their little wheels? the study did not elaborate, sadly), and the formerly happy mice became sadder. Poor mice. However, the takeaway for us is this: Probiotics impact mood.
    • Fun facts about probiotics: Natural sources of probiotics include fermented foods like kombucha, kimchee and sauerkraut. Supplements are also available. High quality probiotics can be pricy, however when you consider the impact they may have on your overall life satisfaction they’re worth it. Other ways to support your gut health is by eating high quality, high fiber, plant based foods. Apparently, roughage supports the growth of healthy bacteria.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Friends, I could go on. (Want to talk about exercise and mood? Don’t get me started!) But the point is that the way you feel on the inside, the way you think, and the way you react are all impacted by the way you care for yourself physically, as well as emotionally. That’s just one of the reasons why the counselors and coaches of Growing Self are such strong advocates of self-care. If you’ve been feeling not-so-hot lately, it may be a good idea to take a look at how you’ve been eating and caring for yourself physically.

You are a WHOLE being. You have thoughts, feelings, behaviors, relationships, and you are involved in different systems to boot. All of these impact you. It’s always helpful to talk about your feelings in order to understand yourself and develop compassion for yourself. However, you may move forward faster when you partner with a coach or counselor who will also support you in taking action to make positive changes in all parts of your life. You’re worth taking good care of!

All the best to you,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

More On The Blog

How to Build Positive Coworker Relationships

How to Build Positive Coworker Relationships

Whether you work in a traditional workplace or with a remote team, it can be challenging to build positive relationships with your coworkers. Career and Executive coach Linda Pounds, M.A., LMFT shares tips for building better relationships at work on this week’s Love, Happiness and Success Blog

Self Care Is Not Selfish

Self Care Is Not Selfish

Self-care is vital to your well-being and your ability to successfully help others. Life coach and therapist, Josephine Marin shares a practical self-care checklist that will help with your success, relationships, and overall happiness in life. Check it out on the blog!

Do What You Love

Do What You Love

How to create a career that’s in alignment with who you are, what you enjoy, and what you’re good at, (AND that earns you a living) on this edition of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.

Four Benefits of Online Coaching

Four Benefits of Online Coaching

Is online coaching right for you? More and more people are moving toward the ease and comfort of working with an online coach, and we can see why! Dr. Kristi Helvig Ph.D., LP, BCC shares the benefits of online coaching in this weeks article on the Love, Happiness & Success blog!

Living in a Beautiful State

Living in a Beautiful State

Learn how to cultivate the mindset that will help you release stress and inner turmoil, and cultivate compassion and connection.

Developing Self-Esteem: One Thought at a Time

Developing Self-Esteem: One Thought at a Time

Developing self-esteem requires time and practice. Life Coach, Sharmishtha Gupta, shares practical ways you can begin to develop your self-esteem and live a happier more fulfilled life with just one thought at a time.

The Fastest, Cheapest, and Easiest Way to Boost Your Mood

The Fastest, Cheapest, and Easiest Way to Boost Your Mood

Taking steps towards being your best self doesn’t have to be complicated…

Have you been feeling irritated lately? Stressed out? Maybe a little more overwhelmed, or more anxious than usual? One way to help yourself feel better is so darn simple and accessible you may never even have considered it.

The Quiet Power of Your Mind / Body Connection

Sometimes larger issues really are at the root of our feelings of anxiety or stress. Other times, listening to our bad feelings and then responding to them by making major life changes is absolutely necessary. When either of those situations are the case, it’s important to dive deeper in to our experiences to see if we need to take action to change the way we think, feel, or behave thorough effective therapy or solution focused coaching.

AND it is also true that sometimes the way we feel has little to do with “bigger issues” but is rather a result of our current physiological state. For example, it’s common knowledge that if you drink too much coffee you will experience symptoms of anxiety like muscle tension, jitteriness, and irritability. Or if you are sick or injured, you will experience symptoms similar to those of depression, like exhaustion, wanting to isolate yourself, and feeling unhappy.

There are no “deeper issues” to address in either case: You are simply experiencing a mood state that is linked to what is happening in your body at the moment. When your physical circumstances change, so will your mood.

Did you know that the way you feel emotionally can also be significantly impacted by something as simple as being slightly dehydrated? Yep, being even mildly dehydrated can make you feel stressed out, anxious, overwhelmed and tired even when nothing else is “wrong.”

Dehydration = Feeling Bad Emotionally

 

The Science Behind Mood & Dehydration

When I first heard about the connection between mood and dehydration I was skeptical. I wade through swamps of psuedo-science nonsense every day in my quest for ideas that will be truly helpful to people, and at first this sounded like more of the same. But when I looked further the research is pretty darn conclusive.

In 2011 scientists at the University of Connecticut compared groups of people, using measures of stress, mood, memory, and mental capacity. (Here is a link to the mood / dehydration study for my fellow psych nerds.) Researchers found that even mild dehydration is associated with:

  • Irritability
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Stress
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Perceiving tasks as more difficult
  • Memory problems
  • Tiring easily

In short? [Tweet “When your body isn’t nourished you won’t feel well emotionally either. “]

Here’s the most surprising part: “Mild dehydration” is defined as being around 1.5% under the normal volume of water in your body– typically the same level of dehydration that starts to trigger sensations of thirst. This is true for people who are both moving around a lot, or sitting still the way that so many of us do throughout our work day. If you’re actually exercising, your water loss could be much more dramatic– marathon runners can loose up to 8% of their water volume during a competition.

It is easy to get dehydrated, and not even realize it. And even the most happy, psychologically healthy person — with no adverse circumstances in their lives — are negatively impacted both mentally and emotionally by JUST the fact of being dehydrated.

Now, no one is saying that drinking more water is going to solve all of your life’s problems. But isn’t it interesting to consider that, especially if you are going through something that is patently stressful or difficult in your life, you are likely to feel worse emotionally, and less able to cope with whatever is going on if you are dehydrated?

When you’re going through something hard it is extremely important to take care of yourself as well as you can. You might not be immediately able to change your circumstances or make major changes within yourself. But you sure can take simple steps towards self care, like drinking more water, to ensure that your foundation is as strong as possible.

One of the fastest, cheapest, and easiest ways to take care of yourself, support your strong foundation, and increase the odds of feeling well is to drink more water. It can help you feel more easy going, in command of your emotions, more patient, and more optimistic than you will if you’re dry.

Here are some tricks to stay hydrated:

1) Use a larger water bottle. In my opinion “8-10 glasses of water” is hard to keep track of. You should be drinking at least the equivalent of a two-liter bottle full of water a day. The easiest way to monitor that is by actually putting your daily water in a two liter bottle, and then committing to drinking the whole thing throughout the day (obviously, pouring it into more manageable vessels along the way if you don’t want to look like the wierdo chugging from the mountain dew two-liter on your daily run).

2) Pay attention to your pee. If you notice that your pee is anything more vivid than a very pale yellow, it means that you are approaching dehydration levels. Get thee to a water fountain, stat!

3) Be prepared to drink much more water than you think you should.
The “two liter a day” rule is a minimum. If you’re hot, exercising, sick, stressed, or tired, drink more.

The next time you’re feeling stressed or irritated, drink a few glasses of water and notice how you feel. I hope you share your experiences with me in the comments below!

Did You Like This Article?

Don’t forget to “Like” my FaceBook page so that you get links to new articles I post right in your newsfeed. And sign up for the Love, Happiness and Success Express to get a monthly roundup of the latest from the blog!

Mind Control: Take Charge of Your Life

Mind Control: Take Charge of Your Life

Harness The Power of Your Mind

Do you ever get frustrated with yourself for not doing the things you know you should do? Of course! We all know how incredibly hard it can be to stay motivated, and stay on track for the long haul.

You only need to look at what a huge industry Life Coaching has become to see how many hundreds of thousands of people are enlisting the support of a coach to help them stay motivated, stay accountable, and make things happen. There is a reason why people reach out to life coaches: It can be tough to stay on track and follow through when you’re going it alone.

However, there are things that you can do on your own to take charge of your life, and achieve your goals. In particular, when you get in control of your mind you can transcend limitations and overcome obstacles that may have seemed insurmountable before.

Your Mind + Body connection is undeniably powerful. Research consistently shows the impact that your physical health, diet, exercise and sleep habits has on your mood and on the way you think. But it works the other way too — cognitive approaches to therapy have been found by research to be the most consistently effective way of improving your mood, feeling better, sleeping better, and getting better results.

[Tweet “When you get in control of your thoughts, you get in control of your life. “]

Learn How to Get In Control Of Your Mind

Being able to harness the power of your mind isn’t about luck or magic. Just like happiness is learned you can also learn how to use simple skills and strategies to build your motivation, resist the temptations that will lure you off track, and achieve your goals.

My guest on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast, Sir John Hargrave, is here to teach you how. Sir John is the author of Mindhacking: How to Change Your Mind For Good in 21 Days. I spoke with Sir John a few months ago before he released his book. In our “Mindhacking: Reprogram Your Brain” podcast he discussed tools and tips you can use to “debug” your brain and straighten out your thinking process.

Today, he’s back to share his latest adventures and advice with us. To prove how powerful his mind control techniques are, Sir John just undertook a 21 day fast. He’s here today to speak with us about the mental ju-jitsu he used on himself to accomplish this goal. He’s sharing his insights with you, so YOU can use similar strategies to make things happen in your own life.

Listen to Sir John’s great, specific advice and learn how to increase your motivation, your focus, and your sense of control. Learn more about Sir John and his book, his program, and his latest adventures in mind control at www.mindhacki.ng

Take Control of Your Life: Listen Now

 

(Was this helpful? If so please be sure to review the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast on iTunes. And don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss out on upcoming episodes!)

Mind Control: Take Charge of Your Life

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Subscribe to the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast on iTunes & Stitcher. Please, rate and review if you enjoy the Podcast!

The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast is Now on Stitcher!

Growing Self Counseling & Coaching
Growing Self
Loading...