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Roller Coaster Rides from Hell: Let's Talk About Mood Swings


Mood swings – many of us have been on that hellish roller coaster ride.  You’re fine one minute and then without warning and without any apparent reason, you’re irritated or depressed or anxious or nervous or just generally upset, and then you’re fine again. 

What causes mood swings?  Mood swings have been attributed to multiple sources, and very often to changes in hormones.  There’s no question that hormones running amok can have a profound influence on mood.  But we all have hormones and they all shift around before, during, and after menstruation but we don’t all go on crying jags or fly into a rage. 

So, could something else be going on?  There is an increasing number of studies that show a relationship between what you eat and how you feel emotionally.

According to Dr. Bonnie Kaplan, Professor Emerita of Paediatrics and Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary, nutrition plays a role in emotional wellbeing.  In a research article entitled “Nutrition and Mental Health”, she says that “Both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies have shown that the more one eats a Western or highly-processed diet, the more one is at risk for developing psychiatric symptoms such as depression and anxiety. Conversely, the more one eats a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, high in healthy fats, nuts, and fish, and low in processed food (a Mediterranean-style diet), the more one is protected from developing a mental disorder.” 

In an article a Harvard Medical School publication, Dr. Eva Selhub concurs, saying “Other studies have compared “traditional” diets, like the Mediterranean diet and the traditional Japanese diet, to a typical “Western” diet and have shown that the risk of depression is 25% to 35% lower in those who eat a traditional diet.” 

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There’s a great deal more research studying how food affects mood, and it all tends to the same conclusion – a nutrient-impoverished diet high in refined sugar and processed food not only injures physical health, it also wreaks havoc with emotional health. 

A diet high in processed foods can make it almost impossible to keep an emotional even keel.  Food manufacturers often use salt and sugar (and sometimes lots of it) to add texture or flavor and as a preservative to extend the shelf life of their product.  There’s a very long list of foods that have added sugar, and some of them are surprising – some yogurts, catsups and barbeque sauces, fruit juices, sports drinks, prepared soups, canned baked beans, bread, cereals, granola. 

Datis Kharrazian explains that overconsumption of sugars overamps the insulin production (the stuff that removes sugar from the bloodstream and pumps it into the cells for energy and converts the excess to fat).  When insulin production goes into overdrive, the cells can become resistant to insulin.  When that happens, the insulin is less able to introduce glucose into the cells.  The cells become energy-starved. 

Insulin resistance also knocks neurotransmitters out of whack.  Starchy foods can stimulate serotonin production, the “feel good” neurotransmitter.  That sounds good, but apparently there’s a limited supply of serotonin and it can get used up too quickly, leaving you feeling low.  Serotonin overproduction also negatively affects dopamine.  Low dopamine can lead to irritability and low mood.

So there you are with nutrient-starved and energy-starved cells and not nearly enough of the “happy hormones”.  Seriously, how is anyone supposed to be even-tempered and cheerful with that going on? 

Avoiding refined sugar is easier said than done.  Reading the labels helps, but food makers can also use sweeteners that are actually forms of sugar even though they’re not identified specifically as sugars.  Some of the other names for sugar are sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, barley malt, dextrose, maltose, agave, and rice syrup.  There are others.  Bottom line is that if you’re eating prepared foods, the chances are very good that you are unintentionally eating an awful lot of sugar.

If you can stick to a diet of “real food”, food that has been processed as little as possible and that doesn’t have additives, you might just find that mood swings ease up.  Dr. Kharrazian offers some very good advice on what to eat to help avoid mood swings.

Is a good diet the entire answer to improving and stabilizing mood?  No, probably not.  But, hey, every bit helps. 


Will NannoPads cure mood swings?  Uh, no.  But many women have found that NannoPads do help in relieving menstrual discomfort.  Read what they have to say, and try them for yourself

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