How to Combat Mood Swings with Food and Fitness!


Ever get moody or depressed? Have mood swings for no reason?  What you eat as well as your exercise workout can help.

There are nutrients in foods that may have a beneficial effect on the brain chemicals that are responsible for your mood.  Researcher’s believe tryptophan, an essential amino acid, may play a role in brain function as it helps to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter, which helps reduce feelings of depression.  When you are depressed you tend to turn to “comfort foods” which usually are complex carbohydrates.  These foods are thought to have a favorable effect on the production of serotonin.

What are the foods we can eat to help fight a depressed mood?  Eating foods high in vitamin B12 and folate will help enhance your mood.  Vitamin B6 may also assist in the metabolism of certain mood-regulating brain chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine.  Omega-3 fatty acids are also linked to reduced incidents of depression.  Here are some foods containing the nutrients that help elevate your mood:

Food Nutrient
Asparagus, lentils, peas, salad greens Folate
Fatty fish, shellfish Omega-2 fatty acids
Bananas, dairy products, peas, poultry Tryptophan
Dairy products, fatty fish, poultry, shellfish Vitamin B12
Bananas, peas, potatoes Vitamin B6


Exercise can also enhance your mood.  WebMD states “when you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain.” Endorphins trigger positive feelings in the brain.  Some refer to this as a euphoric high after exercising (for example, “runners high”).  It gives you a more positive and energizing view on life.  WebMD explains that “endorphins act as analgesics, which means they diminish the perception of pain. They also act as sedatives. They are manufactured in your brain, spinal cord, and many other parts of your body and are released in response to brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. The neuron receptors endorphins bind to are the same ones that bind some pain medicines. However, unlike with morphine, the activation of these receptors by the body’s endorphins does not lead to addiction or dependence.”

These are all good ways to deal with a bad mood or depression without medication.  Next time you are feeling blue go workout and follow it up with a Greek yogurt and a banana.

Holly Kouvo is a certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Specialist, speaker and writer who specializes in helping people lose hundreds of pounds. Learn more at

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