It has been a long, cold winter and your body may be craving warmth, wanting sunshine, and hoping spring comes quickly. If winter has you down, then you could be experiencing the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). While we may not be able to completely lift your spirits, we can help you cope with SAD just a bit better.
The American Heart Association wants you to consume fish twice a week because it is good for your heart, but did you know it is good for your spirits, too? Known for their mood boosting properties, fish and other foods such as walnuts, sunflower seed butter, hemp seeds, vegetable/canola oils, and other foods rich in essential omega-3 fats should be a regular part of your diet to help you beat the winter blues.
Tryptophan, an essential amino acid that we can’t make and therefore must consume, is associated with improved sleep and mood. While you may associate this important protein with Thanksgiving turkey, it is actually found in many foods that make for the perfect meatless Monday meal such as cheese, eggs, soy, seeds, and nuts. One of the ways that tryptophan is effective is that it converts to niacin and serotonin (which are also associated with better sleep and mood), but in order to do so it needs iron and B vitamins. Luckily, nuts, dairy, eggs, legumes, and green leafy vegetables contain these nutrients, too.
Be Serious about B Vitamins
B vitamins are associated with several positive benefits, including improved mood. A water-soluble vitamin, B vitamins must be replenished daily and should therefore be a regular part of your diet. When it comes to reducing the impact of SAD, one B vitamin, riboflavin (B2), is highly encouraged for the role it plays in helping you benefit from tryptophan. It is important to note that experts agree that consuming foods rich in riboflavin such as dairy products, eggs, lean meats, green leafy vegetables, legumes, and nuts, is preferred over supplements.
There are so many reasons to make nuts part of your regular diet, and improving your mood and reducing symptoms of SAD are just some of them. Containing riboflavin, tryptophan, niacin, and polyunsaturated fats, nuts, including almonds, peanuts, walnuts, and pistachios, offer a spectrum of nutrients that help your body naturally boost your energy and mood. Nuts are also rich in folate, which has been associated with improvements in individuals experiencing depression.
Delight in D
Many people experiencing winter blues are spending a lot of time indoors, safe from the winter weather. However, all that time inside puts them at risk for vitamin D deficiency. That low vitamin D may contribute to depression and low energy associated with winter blues. Beat those blues and increase your intake of vitamin D with dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese, fish (swordfish, salmon, and tuna), eggs, and fortified foods like juice and cereal.