Using food to beat the gloomy days
Dr. Samantha Ristimaki, BSc, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
The season’s limited sunshine and cold can make some of us more prone to the blues. Maintaining a healthy diet and staying active are the best ways to help yourself through the gloomy months. If you still feel your mood falling a bit short, certain foods can help provide your body with the building blocks it needs to produce more feel good chemicals.
PMS suffers don’t crave chocolate just because it's tasty. Seratonin, a mood boosting hormone, can drop a week or two before your period. Since cocoa found in chocolate helps to stimulate serotonin production, women often crave food to boost seratonin. Why wait until PMS time to boost your mood? A few squares of dark chocolate will help boost your mood and will not give you the sugar crash that regular chocolate does.
Flaxseeds are not only rich in fibre but they contain essential fat that the body needs but cannot manufacture from other fats. Flax is a rich plant source of omega 3 fatty acids that the brain utilizes as building blocks for nerves. 1 – 2 tbsp per day of fresh ground flax or flaxseed oil is a great addition to your diet.
Wild fish is an even better source of omega 3 fatty acids. These longer chain fatty acids have been shown to be useful in treating clinical depression. Some people find it more effective to supplement with an omega 3 fish oil that is rich in eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA).
Tryptophan is a protein building block that is present in all protein rich foods. It is used to manufacture serotonin. Turkey is a protein rich food that contains the most tryptophan per serving relative to other sources.
Not only are bananas rich in potassium but for a fruit, they are high in tryptophan. If you are trying to be conscious about your blood sugar levels, a whole banana contains almost twice the natural sugars as an apple. One fruit serving of banana is actually half a banana.
This grain is not only rich in tryptophan but it also contains a lot of B vitamins. B’s are used to improve energy and are found to be low in people who suffer from depression. Vitamin B6 is even used in the pathway for creating serotonin.
Getting a good night sleep not only allows you to feel more rested but it also allows your body to heal itself and replenish neurochemicals while you are at rest. Melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep, is contained within sour cherries. Try eating a few of these before bed to ensure that you have a restful night.
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