The “Winter Blues”, also known as SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is caused by lack of sunlight. In Australia we are not subjected to the reduced daylight hours that some of our northern hemisphere friends are, but many Australians still experience lowered mood, energy and vitality during our Winter months. If reduced sunlight affects you in winter, incorporate the following tips to stay vital and happy.
1.Eat Foods To Boost Your Mood
Foods rich in tryptophan (an amino acid), help your body produce serotonin (our feel-good neurotransmitter). Foods containing tryptophan include: milk, chicken, beef, brown rice, fish, eggs, nuts, bananas and vegetables. Combining these with complex carbohydrates will help increase its absorption.
Regular exercise is crucial for managing a lowered mood. It is a fantastic way to help deal with stress as it clears circulating cortisol’s as well as releases endorphins – those ‘feel good’ chemicals. During the warmer months it is easy to rise with the sun and start the day with a brisk walk or workout. But when it’s dark, cold, windy and raining, motivation can often wane and those exercise rituals can very quickly fall away.
If your current rituals aren’t possible because of the weather, have a think on how you can change it up to suit the Season…
You may engage a personal trainer over the winter months or take advantage of the state-of-the-art exercise equipment at the local gym. Try swimming in an indoor heated pool or don a bicycle helmet and hit the local tracks for a weekend bike ride. Often just varying our exercise routines and activities can be the key to keeping you motivated and inspired to move more over winter. By incorporating 30-40mins of exercise most days, you will not only increase your energy levels but you will enhance your cognitive function, memory and learning and protect against mental health issues.
3. Beware of over-indulging in comfort foods
It is tempting to indulge in quick & easy refined comfort foods, such as pasta and white rice, chocolate and sweet treats when we are feeling a bit low. Let’s face it we’ve all succumbed to it from time to time. But eaten regularly these foods promote unstable blood sugar levels and weight gain which can further contribute to lowered mood, energy and vitality. Instead, eat complex carbohydrates in moderation. Try something new like quinoa, millet or buckwheat. Include lots of fresh vegetables and fruits. Replace unhealthy snacks with nuts and seeds, chopped vegetables and dips. Experiment with raw cacao instead of chocolate and eat small amounts of protein regularly to avoid cravings and keep you balanced.
It is also important to supercharge your diet over winter with nutrient-dense meals. Soups and broths are quick and easy to make, are packed with nutrients and make a delicious lunch or convenient and nourishing snack. Experiment with miso and Asian-style broths, and include favourites such as minestrone, roast pumpkin and chicken soup. The beauty of soups is that you can make a huge pot full on the weekends, include whatever vegetables you have in the fridge, flavour with herbs and spices and have enough so you are prepared for lunches during the week.
- Supplements to Boost Mood & Cellular Energy
Our brain accounts for about two percent of our body weight but uses 20-25% of our total energy. Suffice to say when our mood is low our energy is low, because energy is re-distributed in stress and depression.
When we healthy we have deep energy reserves so when exposed to stress we can draw on these energy reserves to “cope” with this stress. Hence we have the resilience to deal with incoming stress effectively.
However people who have reduced energy reserves have a lower resilience and thus a lower ability to cope and are more susceptible to lowered mood and depression.
Studies show people who are depressed have 26% less energy and so it is very important to look after our ‘mitochondria’ or energy making cells.
Our Top 3 Base-line Nutrients for Cellular Energy
Magnesium is a critical ingredient for energy production and what’s more acute stress increases urinary magnesium excretion. Therefore in times of acute and chronic stress our requirement for magnesium is increased. Further studies reveal low magnesium is linked to lowered mood and depression. Supplementation of a quality magnesium is vital for lowered energy.
- Vitamin B-complex
The B-group vitamins are critical for every step of our energy production cycle and they are a cost-effective way to off-set work stress. A twelve week study conducted in 2011 showed significant improvements in depression, fatigue, confusion and tension when participants took a Vitamin B supplement every morning.
- Co-enzyme Q10
Our mitochondria are often referred to as the “powerhouse” of the cell and are responsible for creating our energy.
Mitochondrial dysfunction is central to fatigue and emerging leaders in Complementary medicine believe that mitochondrial therapy is the future of Holistic medicine.
Co-Enzyme Q10 or Ubiquinol which is the preferred form, is essential for energy production.
Key Herbs for Stress, Lowered Mood and Anxiety
There are many beautiful “nervine” herbs we use to nurture, nourish and protect our nervous systems during periods of stress, anxiety, insomnia and depression.
●SAMe, St John’s wort, Rhodiola, Turmeric and Saffron are core mood formula nutrients for depression and lowered mood.
●Ziziphus, Passionflower, Kudzu and Magnolia are beautiful herbs for anxiety and nervous tension.
●California Poppy, Passionflower, Ziziphus and Lavender are great herbs for insomnia
●Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, balance mood and inhibit pain. About 95% of serotonin is produced in the gut and is highly influenced by the billions of “good” bacteria that reside there and so a quality, broad spectrum probiotic is critical for optimal mental health. Ask in store which probiotic is the best for you.
Get the Best Advice from Qualified Practitioners
If you need some Practitioner help to help with lowered mood, anxiety or energy, now is the time to book a professional consultation with the Mammoth Health Naturopaths. By working on your individual health needs, our Practitioner team experience great success in addressing underlying causes and achieving optimal health and vitality for our patients.
Consultations are available daily at our In-store Clinics. Book your Consultation Now
“Because it’s Not a Rehearsal”
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