If you have noticed that with the arrival of gloomier days, your mood begins to “decline,” – you may be suffering from the winter blues or seasonal affective disorder. Unlike depression, this condition is characterized by lethargy, drowsiness, decreased memory and concentration, as well as increased appetite (especially for sweets and high-calorie foods).
Winter blues occur mainly during autumn and winter when the days are shorter and with less sunlight. Lack of light causes our body to produce more melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep, and less serotonin, the so-called happiness hormones. The negative impact that winter blues have on the body and thus the quality of life can be reduced with the help of healthy living habits, regular sleep, and proper nutrition.
Food can be a major ally in the fight against winter blues, and these are some of the foods rich in vitamins that you should consume:
Carbs and Fats are healthy if we choose them wisely
Healthy carbohydrates are complex and full of fiber and other nutrients. They are in cereals, whole-grain bread, and rice, as well as fruits and vegetables. Intake of a sufficient amount of carbohydrates is crucial because they contain a complex of B vitamins, which are necessary for the creation of neurotransmitters in charge of stimulating a good mood. In addition, they contain many vitamins and minerals (magnesium, calcium, and potassium, for example) that are necessary for our body and our brain to function properly. Same as carbohydrates, fats are healthy if we choose them wisely.
Fatty fish like salmon are full of healthy fats and Omega 3 acids, which are great for fighting winter depression. Omega 3 plays a vital role in the development of the brain and behavior because it contains anti-inflammatory characteristics and affects the transfer of dopamine and serotonin. Also, fatty fish is one of the best sources of vitamin D. One fillet for dinner will provide you with the required amount of this vitamin.
Don’t underestimate The Gut-Brain Connection
Scientific research has shown that probiotic dairy products, such as yogurt, sour milk, and kefir have a positive effect on mental health. They affect the production, absorption, and transmission of neurochemicals, crucial for brain and nerve health. Other foods rich in probiotics are apple cider vinegar, pickles, kefir, fermented cheese, etc.
Just like probiotics, prebiotics are also important, which “feed” bacteria in the lower parts of the digestive tract, experts say. They can be found in almost every food of plant origin, but legumes, nuts, and seeds are especially good sources.
In addition, legumes such as lentils and peas are rich in vitamin B6, which helps keep dopamine levels stable. If you are dealing with winter depression, walnuts will help you a lot because they are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. Another healthy and crunchy snack is pumpkin seeds. It contains tryptophan – an amino acid that plays a role in the production of serotonin.
Leafy Green Vegetables and vitamin C – winning combination
Vegetables like spinach, kale, and chard are the key to a good mood. It is rich in potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which contribute to maintaining proper sleep cycles, recovering tired muscles, and regulating the secretion of stress hormones. Try to eat one to two cups of this vegetable a day to feel better.
If you add citrus to green vegetables to promote their absorption, you will get an additional combination. Oranges, lemons, and grapefruits are full of vitamin C, which eliminates fatigue. Cooking destroys most of this vitamin in foods, so it is best to consume them fresh.
Be careful with processed foods
Although some consider them food for the soul, foods such as cakes, pasta, rice, or bread contain simple carbohydrates, which is why they accelerate weight gain because they are digested quickly and cause an increase in insulin and blood sugar. Butter and various full-fat cheeses should also be avoided because they contain many calories and saturated fats.
Some psychological states are a natural consequence that seems to be triggered by the cold weather. But if these changes last longer, are intense, and disrupt daily functioning, it is possible to talk about the mood disorder, and you should seek professional help.