What Color Would your Mood Ring be?

Mental health, mindset, mentality, mood…all words commonly used today as the effects of nutrition and exercise become more popular as well as more scientifically studied; but did you ever own a mood ring? Do you still have one? What color would it be most of the time based on your mood? Black for nervous? Green for relaxed? Violet for excited? Well you can probably throw it away. They change color based on temperature (hotter = darker). Hypothetically speaking, what color would your ring be? Are you eating and training optimally as well as getting adequate sleep? Are you managing stress properly to ensure you feel your best?

Mental health has become a popular topic of discussion as of late. In this article, we’ll dive into nutrition & overall lifestyle and the effects they have on our mental health. Please note that some points are my own opinion (also not medical advice, you should still see a physician), based on my experience as a practitioner and not that of Biolayne, LLC. I encourage you to read the cited studies at the end, too. We will discuss topics such as nutrition & supplementation, exercise, and sleep.

 

Nutrition & Mood

To those who do not believe nutrition affects our mood, you have never been “hangry” and have yet to experience the Jekyll and Hyde effect. To those that have experienced this, you know that eating can play a role in our mood. Now what about the effects of actual nutrients? How can a nutrient deficiency affect our state of mind?

In my experience, I have seen patients make a complete turn-around from feeling depressed and having low energy to having feelings of happiness and vitality. One patient even went as far as to take herself off of an antidepressant, which I advised her not to do and go see her doctor, but she was feeling so good she felt she could stop taking the meds (again, I do not advise doing this). What did these patients do? They started eating less “junk food,” more vegetables, lean proteins, started exercising, and took beneficial supplements (relative to them) like vitamin D or various B vitamins.

Enough of the anecdotal patient reporting. Let’s take a look at multiple studied nutrients:

  • Folate- Deficiency of folate may be associated to depression and taking folate may actually help individuals with a mental illness.[1][2]
  • Omega 3 (EPA)- These fatty acids were shown to beeffective against depression.[3]
  • Zinc- Not only can zinc potentially help with fighting depression, but it can also help with a reduction in feelings of anger.[4]

There me even be potential benefits to incorporating more fermented foods for increased probiotic intake in ones diet, but the research is still young.

 

Photo by Victor Freitas

Exercise

Many see exercise as therapy. Just ask any local avid gym goer why they workout and how it makes them feel. We know that endorphins are released when exercise, which plays a positive role in how we feel, but exercise does multiple things for how we feel and function. Exercise itself:

  • Improves cognition and the ability to cope/manage stress.[5]
  • And at any intensity itimproves mood in depression disorder.[6]

Two positive points that can be life changing. improving cognition, which means increasing our conscious intellectual activity, as well as improving mood in individuals with depression. This raises the point: Perhaps exercise helps us retain information and makes us happier.

Seeing that exercise helps us feel better, we should all be doing it, but we’re not. A lot of people have busy schedules and may have difficulty creating time to train or exercise, so here are a few things one can incorporate (check with your doctor that you are healthy enough to do these) in their daily routine to help add in some movement for those “so busy I can’t make it to the gym” days:

  • Do 30 squats every hour on the hour
  • When making a phone call, pace
  • 30 minutes after the set of squats, do 20 push-ups every hour on the hour (yes, this means every 30 minutes you will either squat or do push-ups; do this until you hit a total of four sets for each exercise
  • On a lunch break or if the opportunity arises, go up and down 4 flights of stairs 5-8 times. If you can get into the gym or get a good high intensity workout in, then make it happen. Those are almost always a sure fire way to feel better!

 

Photo by Anthony Mapp

Sleep & Meditation

The last topic of discussion is one that many hold near & dear to the hearts and that is sleep. How many times have you heard “I can’t function if I don’t get at least eight hours” or something along those lines? Sleep is an important process for helping with recuperation of the muscles and body. Not only is sleep vital for optimal human function, but it feels good to get rest. However, many of us do not get adequate sleep for multiple reasons such as being busy studying, working, can’t shut off the mind, etc. One study showed that stress & sleep deprivation had a negative effect on mood, physiological condition (immune system, autonomic nervous system), and cognitive performance in medical doctors working 24 hour shifts.

So what can we do to improve sleep? I doubt anyone would want sub-optimal performance and cognitive function, so consider the following:

  • Meditation; this alone can help with decreasing stress & anxiety. 8 Plus it can be quite relaxing to help catch some Zs
  • Stay consistent with your exercise routine
  • Shut off the cell phone before going to bed

 

Conclusion

If you didn’t know, now you know: unmanaged stress can be taxing on the body and poor lifestyle habits can impact our mood and cognitive ability. We can see that nutrition, exercise, and sleep play important roles in helping us function & perform optimally. Some of it may seem quite straightforward, but the important part is to do it. All that being said, do you think your mood ring would change colors after reading this? I hope so.

 

References

  1. http://epublications.uef.fi/pub/urn_isbn_978-952-61-1201-5/urn_isbn_978-952-61-1201-5.pdf
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1974941
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21939614
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20087376
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27956050
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27423168
  7. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0214858
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30939081
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