Diet Tips to Ease Winter Blues




Ever had that feeling on a cool winter morning, when you would want nothing more than to wrap yourself up in those nice warm blankets and keep sleeping through the day. Also, sometimes you might sense abrupt mood swings, a very intense craving for sweets, weight gain, and tendency to avoid social gatherings.

Although these might seem quite normal, some people develop a more serious type of problem.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that affects millions of people around the globe. As the name suggests, this disorder is seasonal; that is, it occurs during a fixed time period mostly during late fall and throughout the winters till spring or summer. In some cases the reverse pattern has also been observed with symptoms showing up during the sunnier summer days.




A certain theory dictates that a major reason for SAD is the decline of sunshine during the winter. Scientists say that the reduced sunlight causes certain unwanted interferences in the brain resulting to declining serotonin levels – an enzyme which is responsible for hunger and the feeling of well-being and happiness. The symptoms may develop on a mild level but progress on to becoming more severe.

Some of the most common symptoms are:

1) Oversleeping
2) Irritation
3) Weight gain
4) Craving for foods high in carbohydrates (more on the sweeter side)
5) Low affinity to social interactions.
6) Heavy and sluggish feeling in the body.
7) Always feeling tired or low energy.
8) Shyness and Over obsessive nature.

ROLE OF VITAMIN D:

Another probable cause for SAD is the low availability of vitamin D in the body owing to the low sunlight during the winters. Although scientists are yet to say definitively that increase in the amount of vitamin D would be beneficial against SAD, research conducted by University of Toronto showed that increased intake of vitamin D for patients suffering from depression or SAD particularly, showed improvements in their condition. It is still not sure as to how much quantity of vitamin D is advised, the Institute of Medicine recommends a daily consumption of about 600 International Units (IUs). A person suffering from SAD must get adequate sunlight, exercise and consume foods rich in vitamin D.

These includes:

1) Fatty fish like tuna, mackerel and salmon.
2) Cod-liver oil
3) Mushrooms
4) Whole grain cereals fortified with vitamin D
5) Tofu, eggs (yolk) and dairy products like milk, yogurt

CAN OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS HELP??

As we all know there are plenty of side effects of using anti-depressants and hence the medical industry is constantly looking out for safer alternatives in the fight against depression. A new research suggests that omega 3 fatty acids along with being excellent for the body against heart disease, cancer and diabetes, can also be a very effective tool against depression without harmful side-effects.

What are omega 3 fatty acids? These are the unsaturated fats found chiefly in fish oils, flaxseed, Canola and walnut oil, fish roe (eggs), soybeans and spinach.

HOW IMPORTANT ARE PROTEINS??

Doctors advise that a healthy protein intake is essential for speedy recovery against depression. Protein should be consumed up to 3 times a day, mostly consisting of lean meats like salmon, adding different brightly coloured vegetables are also essential as these are carbs which are good for the body.

OTHER ITEMS TO BE INCLUDED IN DIET:

BERRIES – Blueberries, Raspberries and Strawberries have a tendency to reduce the release of cortisol, a hormone secreted by the adrenal gland which is a cause for interfering with the brain functions during stress. A couple of berries a day keep stress away!!

FOLIC ACID – Although there is no conclusive evidence, some believe that the body uses Folic acid to create serotonin – the mood enhancing enzyme secreted by the body. Food rich in Folic acid include Asparagus, Lentils, Soy beans, Broccoli, Oatmeal, cereals, and citrus fruits like Papaya, Oranges, and Grapefruit.

VITAMIN B12 – Low levels of vitamin B12 are associated with depression and hence it is beneficial to include substances rich in vitamin B12 like lean beefs, shellfish, crab, cereals, milk, low fat dairy, cheese and yogurt.

DARK CHOCOLATE – Chocolates have always been known to give you that warm, tingling, good feeling which researchers link with high Polyphenol content which are a type of anti-oxidant.

Although light therapy (Photo therapy), meditations and talk therapy are prescribed means of cure these dietary changes have proved to be immensely beneficial in the treatment of SAD.

So don’t underestimate changes in your mood and appetite this winter claiming it to be just the winter blues, always get yourself checked by your doctor.

“To keep the body in good health is a duty….
Otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear”
– Buddha.

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