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Foods To Beat The Winter Blues

Posted Feb 07 2010 11:23pm


In the winter when the cold weather blows inyou might find it hard to motivate yourself to get out of bed or even leave the house. Shorter winter days also mean less sunlight every day and sunlight helps us feel wide-awake. You might be experiencing a winter slump and a drop-off in energy levels like many other people. And when lacking in energymany people look towards food for an extra boost. Make sure you're choosing the right foods year-round and follow these tips for beating your winter blues!

Folate

Moodsleep and appetite are regulated by serotonindopamine and norepinephrine. Folic Acidor folatehelps your body to process and lower homocysteine levels. High levels of homocysteine are associated with damage to blood vesselsin addition to interfering with the flow of blood and nutrients to the brain. Impaired blood flow may leave you feeling sluggish or slow to process or recall information.

Good sources of folic acid are green leafy vegetables (spinachbroccolikaleBrussels sprouts)potatoesfortified breads and cerealsbeanspeasand mushrooms.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have hormone-like effects and anti-inflammatory properties in the body. People who experience seasonal depression during fall and winter have been found to have lower levels of omega-3s. They have also been found to experience an improvement in mood with supplementation of this nutrient.

Omega-3s are found in fatty fish like salmon and tunasome plant oils (flaxseedcanola)and walnuts.

Vitamin D

The body normally makes Vitamin D from sunlight. This nutrient has many different roles in the bodyone of which is to help in the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps you to feel calmrelaxed and happy. Many people are lacking in Vitamin D in the winter because of fewer daylight hours and exposure to sunlight. CurrentlyVitamin D is being investigated for its ability to decrease depressive symptoms. Eat foods that are a good source of this vitamin.

Low fat milk is fortified with Vitamin Din addition to many cereals and some orange juices (check the labels.) One important thing to note is that food sources of Vitamin D are limitedand many people are deficient in this nutrient without even realizing it. Depending on your dietyou may need to take a Calcium + Vitamin D supplement.

Protein

Known for their ability to relax and calm your moodrefined carbohydrates can contribute to sleepiness. A diet high in protein and lower in refined carbohydrates may help to improve moodstimulate energy and chase away feelings of sluggishness. Protein foods made from amino acids help to stimulate the production of tyrosinewhich is responsible for the synthesis of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. These are chemicals in your brain that promote feeling alert and that enhance energy.

Low fat dairy products like milkcheesecottage cheese and yogurt are good sources of proteinin addition to lean meatspoultryand eggs. Aim to have some protein on your plate at every meal to keep feeling lively and active all year round!

Rosemary

Many herbs and spices are notorious for their beneficial effects on health in addition to adding flavor to dishes. Rosemary has been shown to increase blood flow to your brain and improve mood. Like Omega-3 fatty acidsthis herb also has anti-inflammatory properties and may even benefit the immune system. Responsible for fighting infection and warding off winter colds and flukeeping your immune system strong will keep you on your feet and feeling great.

Use Rosemary to season your meals and bolster your immunity this winter season!

Just because the sky is gray and the temperature is lowdoesn't mean your mood has to be! Choosing the correct foods (in the appropriate portions) can give you more energy and help you handle those winter doldrums.

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