The colder months are approaching and with that our days are becoming shorter and darker. The less sun we get, the worse we tend to feel. Many of us suffer from seasonal affective disorder and become very sad, lethargic and borderline depressed because we don’t get enough sun and our body struggles to produce enough serotonin, otherwise known as the happiness hormone. Apart from that, during the winter month our body also struggles with the production of melatonin, a hormone wich helps us regulate our sleep and can affect our mood too. All in all, a lot of people end up feeling tired and moody during the colder season. However there are simple easy steps you can take to improve that. Let’s start with eating the right foods, which can help to boost your mood on a cold day.
According to psychiatrists this plant has an antidepressant effect. Doctors have conducted a study on patients in the psychiatric ward, giving them 15 g of saffron or placebo daily for two months. Three-quarters of people taking saffron reported an increase in their “emotional well-being” compared with participants in the placebo group. Researchers believe that the effect of saffron is similar to that of Prozac – it increases the concentration of serotonin in the brain.
2. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your body produce serotonin. It’s definitely a good snack to have to boost your mood. It’s best to eat them raw, this way you’ll get all the nutrients and vitamins from them. However, when they’re fried, or included as an ingredient in nut butters and nut mixes – they’ll do more harm than good for your body.
3. Dark Chocolate
Not only does chocolate contain tryptophan, which we’ve established is good for you, but chocolate also contributes to the synthesis of endorphin in your body, which will definitely make you feel happier. Dark chocolate is also rich in vitamin B, magnesium and caffeine – all of which help you feel more energetic and cheerful. The important thing is to eat chocolate that contains at least 70% of raw cocoa – a source of nutrients, otherwise it’s a just a high calorie sweet treat that will likely have a bigger effect on your waistline rather than your mood.
4. Chamomile Tea
In winter, due to the reduction of daylight hours, we suffer from fluctuations in the circadian rhythm – the internal clock of our body. Therefore, it becomes harder for us to fall asleep at night and remain active during the day. Chamomile tea helps regulate sleep and improves the body’s cognitive functions – memory and perception – throughout the day. The feeling of fatigue, common for many during the winter months, will recede, which will immediately affect your well-being and lift your spirits.
Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, trout and mussels are one of the main sources of essential Omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids. Our body is not able to produce these beneficial substances on their own, and they can be obtained only from the outside. Omega-3 promotes the production of dopamine and serotonin and helps strengthen the nervous system. Regular consumption of products containing Omega-3 will help you feel much better and happier.
6. Fruits and Vegetables
People who eat more fruits and vegetables and limit the consumption of fats and sweets are less prone to depression than those with a sweet tooth. All due to the antioxidants found in fresh plant foods. Foods like beans, citrus fruits, spinach and romaine lettuce are high in folic acid, which is integral for our health and happiness. The lack of this substance leads to a reduction in serotonin production and may even cause depression. Therefore, regular consumption of products that contain folic acid will help to improve your general well-being and mood.
A science study showed that people on a low-carb diet (only 20-40 grams of carbohydrates per day) were more anxious and depressive than those who followed a low-calorie and high-carb diet consisting of whole grains, fruits and beans. Researchers attribute the increase in serotonin production to the amount of carbohydrates ingested.
8. French Mustard
Another product containing Omega-3 acids is French mustard. Therefore using French mustard instead of mayonnaise (which contains Omega-6, which can have a negative effect on health when consumed in large quantities), will result in a noticeable improvement in your health and mood, plus it’s delicious.