10 foods to beat the winter blues

Friday, 25 November 2016.

10 foods to beat the winter blues

The are people who love winter, and there are people who get the winter blues. Yes, there is a type of depression, called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), thought to be due to the change in the seasons. 

Symptoms begin in mid-autumn and may worsen during the winter months, and are similar to those of other types of depression. SAD can be effectively tackled through therapy, exercise, and a healthy diet. Below are some ideas on how to improve you mood through a healthy diet!

Lean protein
Salmon is an excellent source of lean protein, beyond the fact that it is rich in omega-3s. Perhaps a juicy steak my seem more appetizing on cold days, but the saturated fat in the steak will do nothing to improve our mood or overall health. On the other hand, lean protein foods, such as chicken breast, are rich in amino acids that boost our mood, apart from the fact that they are excellent sources of energy, needed to beat the fatigue that comes with SAD.  


Omega-3 fatty acids are famous for their health properties.And they can improve our mood, too. A study at the University of Pittsburgh showed that people who cnsume more omega-3 have lower chances of experiencing depressive symptoms. Linseed, walnuts, and salmon are among the best sources of omega-3 in the diet. 

Stress makes the symptoms of SAD worse, and puts a burden on the body. blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries can reduce the secretion of cortisol, the stress hormone. It's therefore worth keeping these in the fridge or freezer! 

Cut down on sugar
sugar in hiiden in many of the foods we buy, usually in the form of syrups or ingredients the names of which end in -ose. Of course, sugar is a source of energy, but overconsumption can be catastrophic for the brain, by slowing down its function. Also, the "down" we experience following the surge in blood sugar after eating sweets can make us feel even worse than before. 

Folic acid
Research has provided some new information on how folic acid acts on the brain: folic acid improves mood! Evidence shows that the human body used folic acid to make serotonin, a neurotransmitter that improves mood (also called "the happy hormone"). So, make sure you have these folic acid-rich foods at hand: green leafy vegetables, oats, sunflower seeds, oranges, and legumes such as black--eyed beans. 

Vitamin Β12
Low levels of vitamin B12 in the blood have been correlated with depressive symptoms - however, researchers are still not exactly sure why that is. There are, thankfully, many ways to increase uptake of this precious vitamin, such as low-fat beef, oysters, salmon, eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, and milk. 

Vitamin D
The sun vitamin, as the human body produces vitamin D through sun exposure. Even after 20 minutes of walking in the sun, mood can be improved. There are also sources of vitamin D through the diet: milk, egg yolk, and fish are rich in this vitamin, or you can take supplements.  

Dark chocolate 
Chocolate is perhaps the classic sweet remedy for rough days. However, eating a large cup of chocolate ice cream or an entire chocolate bar is the wring way. dark chocolate is rich in polyphenols, an antioxidant that improves mood. Therefore, always go for chocolate iwth a high cocoa content - without overdoing it of course! 

The joke goes that, after Thanksgiving, everybody is lethargic. This is because of the turkey and the amino acid tryptohan and the hormone melatonin in it. turkey meat, apart from the lean protein it contains, is also a very healthy way to improve our mood naturally.  

Like turkey, bananas are rich in tryptophan. The carbohydrates and potassium in bananas are also a great source of energy for the brain. Magnesium can also help with sleep problems and reduce stress, two common symptoms of SAD. Have a banana as an afternoon snack, or for breakfast in a smoothie or with other healthy fruits in a salad.  

And don't forget...
Some dietary changes can be beneficial for health but, for depression, they cannot act as a substitute to therapy or drug treatment, if needed. If you notice that you are experiencing symptoms of depression, talk to a doctor, who will be able to provide you with treatment options to help you feel better.