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As the days grow shorter and the nights longer, some people find that their moods darken as well. It’s not uncommon, during fall and winter, to feel sluggish, however those winter blues can become a depression that lasts for months.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression that begins in fall and peaks mid winter. By spring, when longer days bring more sunshine, the symptoms ease.
Up to 20% of the population experience varying degrees of SAD. However, help is available…in the kitchen. Check out the following foods that ease seasonal affective disorder, naturally.
What Causes SAD?
Doctors believe that the long dark nights of winter disrupt brain chemicals, such as melatonin and serotonin, that affect mood. Days and days of overcast skies that limit sunlight contribute as well to feeling glum. So there appears to be a connection between lack of sunlight and seasonal affective disorder. Some experts also believe reduced sunlight lowers vitamin D levels in the body, which in turn can cause depression.
Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include weariness, anxiety, depression, craving carbohydrates, irritability, weight gain and avoidance of social situations.
Ten minutes of sunlight a day helps to ease SAD, by boosting vitamin D in the body. To improve symptoms even more, and for those days and days of gray skies, try adding the following foods to your diet.
Foods That Ease Seasonal Affective Disorder
Include these foods during fall and winter to combat SAD.
Mangoes support emotional health, uplift mood, alleviate depression and ease seasonal affective disorder. They also promote a good night’s sleep. Eat mangoes on their own, or add to smoothies and fruit salads.
Atlantic Sea Vegetables
These gifts from the sea remove heavy metals from the body. They are rich with nutrients that balance the body, ease stress and ground the emotions. Add dried Atlantic sea vegetables to salads and soups or blend them up in smoothies.
Oranges and Tangerines
Oranges and tangerines are called liquid sunshine! High in vitamin C, oranges and tangerines brighten mood when we are feeling sun deprived. Enjoy freshly prepared orange juice or add the citrus fruit to salads and hot ciders. Strive to eat a couple of oranges or tangerines a day, to receive all the goodness that they offer.
Bananas contain tryptophan, which calms the body. Their natural sugars and high potassium levels fuel the brain, while magnesium improves sleep and reduces anxiety. Add bananas to fruit smoothies, healthy breads and muffins, or eat them as a snack. For a special treat, blend frozen bananas into nice dream and top with berries.
Dark leafy greens, high in folic acid, boost mood by creating serotonin. During the cold winter months, enjoy a big salad daily for lunch, with leafy greens as the foundation. Or add greens to smoothies and juices.
Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are all powerful anti-inflammatories that help to prevent the release of the stress hormone, cortisol. Lowering stress eases the symptoms of SAD. Berries are wonderful added to smoothies, salads and herbal teas or piled on top of gluten free oatmeal.
This powerful anti-inflammatory increases blood circulation and boosts the brain and mood. Use turmeric in curry recipes or add a spoonful to warm coconut milk, to create a soothing nighttime drink. Or take a daily supplement in capsule form.
Walnuts and Flaxseeds
High in Omega-3s, walnuts and flaxseeds provide essential nutrients that help to boost mood and lessen depression. Add flaxseeds to smoothies or baking recipes. Eat a small amount of walnuts daily or add to gluten free banana bread and salads.
Avoid This Food
In the list of foods that ease seasonal affective disorder, there is one food to avoid. Refined sugar negatively impacts the brain and slows it down. Limit sugar during the winter months, or avoid it entirely. Your body and your mood will benefit.
Frequently including the foods listed above, and ten minutes of sun bathing on bright sunny days, can greatly reduce or eliminate seasonal affective disorder. I know. I’m one who feels a bit blue when the sun disappears for days behind a mass of gray clouds. To feel my best, and avoid going into hibernation mode, I need sunlight and these natural mood boosters.
Are you SAD during winter? Talk to me about it, in the comments below.
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