Contributed by: Dustin Gonzalez, M.S., NASM-CPT
Weather Got You Feeling SAD?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a combination of biological and mood disturbances typically occurring in the autumn and winter months. SAD is characterized by recurrent episodes of depression, hypersomnia, carbohydrate cravings and weight gain. About 5 percent of the U.S. population experiences SAD, with symptoms present for about 40 percent of the year, depending on where you live. Light therapy, pharmacotherapy (antidepressants) and cognitive behavior therapy are common mainstream treatment options, but there are also a number of lifestyle changes that can be “affective” by increasing serotonin, a mood stabilizing neurochemical.
SUMMARY OF TIPS TO BEAT SAD
• Increase omega-3 fats and vitamin D rich foods (e.g., salmon, tuna, sardines, egg yolks and mushrooms)
• Eat foods high in B6, B12, folate and magnesium to support serotonin production (e.g., leafy greens, avocados, asparagus, broccoli, bell peppers, chicken, and salmon).
• Enhance immune health with selenium rich foods (e.g., Brazil nuts and tuna)
• Focus on foods high in polyphenols (e.g., organic blueberries, cranberries, blackberries and raspberries, organic dark cocoa, and antioxidant spices, such as cinnamon and turmeric)
• Eat more animal protein for the tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin (e.g., grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, and pastured eggs)
• Consume foods high in probiotics to support the gut-brain axis (e.g., sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha and grass-fed cultured dairy products like kefir and yogurt)
• Eat low glycemic carbohydrates and avoid white bread, pasta, rice, sugar and processed foods that cause a sugar “high” and subsequent crash
• Incorporate aerobic training and resistance training
• Get outside for a walk 30-60 minutes during the day