In the corona pandemic, even more people than usual suffer from depressive moods and other psychological symptoms, show the statistics of the health insurance companies. Especially then, regular exercise and a targeted diet are valuable help: In this way, you can contribute to a better inner balance.

How does regular exercise affect our psyche?

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Exercise has been shown to increase the L-tryptophan content in the brain. What is it all about? L-tryptophan is a precursor of the better-known hormone serotonin, our so-called happiness messenger. L-tryptophan causes endorphins to rise in the body, which improves our mood and emotional wellbeing. It’s best to try out several sports until you find what you enjoy – such as cycling, walking or jogging, swimming, dancing, yoga, aerobics, light fitness training, and many others. Feel free to look for someone to accompany you during your training – ideally a personal trainer who regularly motivates and supports you in a targeted manner.

Are there certain sports that have proven effective in treating depressive moods?

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I suffered from depression myself for years. What I had completely underestimated as possible aids are yoga and meditation. In the beginning, I preferred sports that I could work out in, such as spinning, jogging, aerobics, Tae bo, and barbell training. In terms of mood, however, that only helped me for a short time. There was an enormous release of happiness hormones in these sports, which initially made me feel better. However, this effect fizzled out relatively quickly. Yoga and meditation had a far stronger and more lasting positive effect for me. With that, I finally got my eternal brooding and “thought carousels” under control. Conscious breathing in yoga and meditation alone relieves stress on the body and mind and helps me be more relaxed and balanced in my private and professional life.

How often should I exercise?

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It is recommended that you do at least 30 minutes of exercise or sport three to four times a week. Even walking or gardening have positive effects on our physical and mental health. Nature helps us to get a free and clear head. After a short time, you will notice that regular exercise will make you feel fitter and more comfortable. You are generally more relaxed, and you won’t feel stressed or overwhelmed as quickly. In addition, regular exercise can increase your self-esteem, and you will feel more zest for life. So it pays to stay tuned.

Can I prevent depressive moods through my diet?

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It is best to pay attention to a balanced diet in general. Excessive consumption of simple sugars – sweets, ice cream, cakes, sweetened drinks, etc. – causes blood sugar fluctuations. These can be associated with irritability, forgetfulness, dizziness, tiredness, and moodiness. In addition, the so-called trans fatty acids – hydrogenated fats – promote chronic inflammatory reactions in the body, which can also be related to depressive moods. Therefore, it is advisable to reduce industrial sugar and give preference to healthy, polyunsaturated fatty acids – flaxseed, flaxseed oil, nuts, avocado, coconut oil, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed oil, etc.

Are there any foods that put you in a good mood?

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Foods containing tryptophan can improve mood: L-tryptophan is an essential, vital amino acid and, as already mentioned, the precursor of serotonin – a neurotransmitter that is formed in the brain and ensures balance, a good mood, optimism, good concentration, and restful sleep. The following foods, for example, contain a lot of L-tryptophan:

Nuts
Sunflower seeds
Sesame
Millet
Oats
Wheat germ
Bananas
Spirulina
Quinoa
Amaranth
A low serotonin level can promote gloom, irritability, lack of concentration, cravings for sweets, listlessness, insomnia, anxiety, and depressive moods.

A magnesium deficiency can also increase the risk of depressive moods, as this mineral is required for the formation of serotonin, this also applies to zinc and vitamins B3 and B6. Magnesium is involved in the conversion of L-tryptophan into 5-HTP and influences the synthesis and release of many other neurotransmitters, i.e. brain messenger substances. Magnesium is important for the energy metabolism, has a generally relaxing effect, and calms the nervous system. A deficiency can lead to tiredness, exhaustion, poor concentration, nervousness, and a racing heart. They contain a lot of magnesium, for example:

Oat flakes/bran
Whole grain products
green vegetables
Sunflower seeds
Sesame seeds
Hemp seeds
Chia seeds
Nuts
Beans
Peas
The omega3 fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated fatty acids, form important building blocks for our brain and nervous system. A deficiency can promote depressive moods, because the human brain consists of around 20 percent omega-3 fatty acids. A doctor can examine the omega 3 status and any deficit can be compensated for with appropriate food or dietary supplements. Good sources for this are, for example, linseed oil, hemp oil, chia and hemp seeds, and avocados.

Conclusion

Anyone who often suffers from depressive moods should definitely consult a doctor. Sufficient exercise three to four times a week is important for mental health. A supportive diet includes low sugar, sufficient magnesium, amino and omega3 fatty acids.