Summer is long gone, and once again we feel the nights closing in. There’s the lucky ones out there that embrace the darkness and prepare for halloween with an enthusiasm greater than any child, but for many people we feel a bit down in the dumps come winter, particularly in a country with a climate like the UK. As it’s dark and the weather is usually wet, windy or cold, we tend to spend more of our time indoors. And while we all like a cosy night in, too much time spent sheltering from the elements can make us go a little stir crazy.
Okay, so that’s one side of the story. But there’s also a clinically proven depression, known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD, that’s related to the changes in the seasons. Shockingly, as many as 29 percent of British adults experience the symptoms of SAD during the winter months. For most people, SAD will tend to start and end at about the same time every year, with symptoms including lethargy, irritability and a persistent low mood.
Treatments for SAD include lifestyle measures, such as getting as much natural sunlight as possible, exercising regularly and even managing your diet. So with diet in mind, what foods should you eat to battle those winter blues?
Bananas are a fantastic fruit because they’re cheap, tasty and good for you in a whole range of different ways. Companies like office fruit basket delivery service Fruitful office now deliver fruit to workplaces across Ireland and the UK and this is one way to make sure there’s always a supply of fresh fruit within easy reach.
Bananas are full of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, B6, and C. They are also an excellent supply of fibre, potassium, phosphorous, iron and carbohydrate. However, most important in battling the winter blues is the amino acid tryptophan. This essential amino acid is converted into the hormone serotonin, which is considered a natural mood stabiliser that can also boost bodily functions such as eating, sleeping and digestion.
Eating a regular supply of oily fish, at least one portion or around 140g a week, can lower blood pressure, reduce fat build-up in the arteries and bring a whole host of other health benefits. As well as our bodies, fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, is also good for our brains.
About 60 percent of the dry weight of the brain is made up of fat, with about 30 percent of that omega-3. People who are deficient in omega-3 can be more susceptible to depression and low mood, so when winter comes along they can be left battling the effects of SAD. Eating oily fish once a week will provide the omega-3 the body needs and help to keep our brains flexible, allowing the brain’s messaging chemicals to work more effectively.
Another symptom of SAD is low energy levels. Oats can be a serious ally in your battle against this lethargy thanks to the slow and regular way they release energy into the bloodstream. This steady release of energy helps to stabilise blood pressure and mood by avoiding the energy surges and crashes that can be experienced with other foods. Oats are also a source of the mood-boasting mineral selenium, a powerful anti-oxidant that’s associated with a wide range of benefits for mind and body.
Do you suffer from the winter blues? What are your go-to pick-me-ups? We’d love you to share your views with our readers in the comments section below.