The Big Picture

The Relationship between Mood and Metabolism

The Relationship between

Metabolism doesn’t just affect your weight and how fast you burn calories; it also affects your mood and the way you interact with the world around you. Mood and metabolism are interrelated in very complex ways. The balance and function of your metabolism can have a serious impact on your mood, the way you experience your environment, and thus the way you experience life.

Defining Metabolism

Metabolism is the cell’s use of energy. Catabolic metabolism is the breakdown of substances; anabolic metabolism is the synthesis of substances. These are fundamental and complex processes that require environmental equilibrium both in and around the cell. The importance of metabolism is simply that without the energy provided to the cells and the ability to utilize that energy, there would be no function and therefore no life. You cannot eat, drink, sleep, breathe, think, or feel without the complex and coordinated effort of your 100 trillion individual cells.

Environmental Influences

Your metabolism is easily influenced by the air, water, food, and sunlight that you’re exposed to through your external environment. The quality of your metabolism affects your ability to respond to any environmental challenge, all the way down to the cell level. Your mental and emotional perception of your encounters moment to moment are just as dependent upon your metabolism as any other bodily function. What you take in from your environment—the nutrients that enter your body through breathing, drinking, eating, and skin absorption—affect the way you feel toward your environment, as well as your ability to handle new experiences and stressors.

The environment’s influence over metabolism and metabolism’s ability to aid in effective response to the environment is an essential relationship; it has tremendous influence over every aspect of life, including digestion, sleep, cognitive function, and emotional temperament.

Mood and Metabolism

The balance of the brain’s metabolic activity is one of the primary relationships regarding mood and brain function.1 If metabolic processes are functioning poorly due to stress or improper nutrition, the interaction between mood and metabolism can be negative and harmful.2 There are several studies linking poor metabolic function to mental illness and mood disorders such as depression.3-5 On the other hand, if metabolic processes are functioning appropriately, the relationship between mood and metabolism can be positive and protective.6,7 Achieving optimal metabolism will boost your mood and help you feel inspired, motivated, and ready to explore and experience new things.8,9

The most effective way to support your metabolism and influence your environmental exposure is through regulating your diet. In my next post, we will explore the importance of eating well when you’re feeling stressed out. In the meantime, sign up for my newsletter to receive more information and advice on health and well-being.


  1. de Wit H1, Metz J, Wagner N, et al. Effects of diazepam on cerebral metabolism and mood in normal volunteers. Neuropsychopharmacology 5, No. 1 (Aug 1991): 33–41.
  2. Tombaugh GC, Yang SH, Swanson RA, et al. Glucocorticoids exacerbate hypoxic and hypoglycemic hippocampal injury in vitro: biochemical correlates and a role for astrocytes. J Neurochem 59, No. 1 (Jul 1992): 137–46.
  3. Arnsten AFT. Stress signalling pathways that impair prefrontal cortex structure and function. Nat Rev Neurosci 10, No. 6 (Jun 2009): 410–22.
  4. Hage MP, Azar ST. The link between thyroid function and depression. J Thyroid Res 2012 (2012): 590–648.
  5. Linnoila M, Lamberg BA, Potter WZ, et al. High reverse T3 levels in manic and unipolar depressed women. Psychiatry Res 6, No. 3 (Jun 1982): 271–6.
  6. Gold PE. Glucose and age-related changes in memory. Neurobiol Aging 26, Suppl 1 (Dec 2005): 60–4.
  7. Nakagawa T, Tsuchida A, Itakura I, et al. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor regulates glucose metabolism by modulating energy balance in diabetic mice. Diabetes 49 (Mar 2000): 436–44.
  8. Chan KL, Tong KY, Yip SP. Relationship of serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and health-related lifestyle in healthy human subjects. Neuroscience Letters 447, No. 2-3 (Dec 2008): 124–8.
  9. Sui L, Ren WW, Li BM. Administration of thyroid hormone increases reelin and brain-derived neurotrophic factor expression in rat hippocampus in vivo. Brain Res 1313 (Feb 2010): 9–24.


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