Well… we’re nearing the end of January. It’s been a long winter so far, with some very crazy weather. Winter itself can leave some people feeling blue, from the lack of sunshine and the tendency to want to stay inside and hibernate. I know I am one of those people. So, I have come up with a list of 5 foods to help boost your mood, and beat those winter blues!
Before we get to the list though, I would like to mention that one underlying factor that can affect our moods is a poor control of blood-sugar levels. Keeping blood-sugar levels more even can be achieved by eating small regular meals of natural, unprocessed foods, including protein and fiber at each one. This keeps us off the blood-sugar roller coaster that can happen when we don’t consume a balanced meal, with low to zero sugar, and those mid-afternoon crashes that can really bring us down.
The foods I have selected for this list are high in B Vitamins, including B6, B12, and Folic Acid, which are essential for balancing the hormones in our brain that make us happy! Other important nutrients in brain health are Omega 3s, tryptophan, zinc, chromium, magnesium, and vitamin D. Vitamin D, also known as the ‘sunshine’ vitamin, help us feel better during the winter months when we can’t get enough sunshine.
Now to the list:
Salmon: Salmon is very high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for building and rebuilding your brain. They also help boost you serotonin levels, the hormone that makes us happy! Salmon also contains Vitamin D. Always make sure when you are purchasing salmon that it is wild caught, and not farmed. Farmed salmon is pumped full of steroids and antibiotics and fed a diet that is not meant for any kind of fish.
Eggs: Eggs are high in vitamins B2 and B12, D, and the amino acid Tryptophan. B12 boosts energy and is essential for the health of our nervous systems. B Vitamins help promote Tryptophan, which is an amino acid that is important for serotonin production, as well as melatonin (the sleep hormone). When I’m saying eat eggs, I mean eat the whole egg! The yolk is where all the amazing vitamins are coming from, and the egg white is important too. When you are purchasing eggs, the best you can get are free-run, farm fresh. If you are lucky enough to know a farmer that you can get your eggs from, please do! If you don’t, maybe do a little research and try to find someone in your area who sells eggs. Farm fresh, free-run eggs are not only better for you and the chicken, but taste so much better too!
Green Leafy Vegetables: This includes spinach, kale, beet greens, chard, asparagus, and broccoli. These leafy wonders are full of Folic Acid, one of the main essential nutrients needed in the production of serotonin and proper brain function. Try to aim for organic leafy vegetables. Unfortunately leafy vegetables are really bad for being sprayed with pesticides.
Sprouts: These guys are nutrient powerhouses! They are packed full of so many good nutrients and active enzymes for digestion. Some of the main nutrients that sprouts have, are B Vitamins! You can find different varieties of sprouts at the grocery store or health food store. Alfalfa and Mung Bean sprouts being the most popular. You can also very easily grow your own sprouts at home, where you know they will be fresh and what went into them and on them from the beginning to end. You can eat sprouts on their own, in salads, on sandwiches, in salads, or even in a stir fry.
Oats: My last mood boosting food is oats. Oats are packed full of B vitamins and folic acid. Really keep that serotonin going. Oats also have a high amount of complex carbohydrates that provide sustained energy, and contain about 10% to 15% protein. This will keep your blood sugar balanced too. There’s lots of different brands of oats out there. Try to keep them organic.
In all, I went with foods rich in B Vitamins, Folic Acid, and essential fatty acids for brain health. As well as vitamin D the ‘sunshine’ vitamin. Keeping our brains healthy and producing serotonin, which is particularly low in the winter, is what will boost our moods and keep us happy. If you are under a lot of stress, then your serotonin levels will be even more depleted and it is even more important to eat these foods and boost your serotonin production.
Other tips to beat your winter blues… get moving! Exercise can be as effective in boosting your mood as antidepressants. Do something that you really enjoy, so you will keep up with it. 30-60 minutes 3 to 5 days a week is ideal. You can also get a full-spectrum light bulb, they have the same quality of light as the sun.