5 foods to help reduce seasonal depression

The change of seasons can affect our bodies and minds in ways that we seem to have no control over.

We are known to rely on our circadian clock to regulate our mood, and less sunlight overall can disrupt this natural rhythm. For some, this can lead to a form of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

But according to registered dietitian Natalie Olsen, a few additions to our diet can help us feel better on shorter, cooler, darker days.

Olsen said that eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish and nuts, as well as foods high in fiber, can help reduce inflammation in the body and improve overall well-being.

Supplement omega-3s by eating oily fish.

Olsen said foods with anti-inflammatory properties play a key role in the changing seasons. She noted that stress and negative emotions can lead to inflammation in the body, creating a vicious cycle.

Olsen recommends eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring.

Olsen recommends two servings per week.

If you don’t eat fish, add nuts to your food.

Her second best recommendation for omega-3 rich foods is to eat nuts and seeds.

Walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds are great sources of omega-3s that help reduce inflammation.

High-fiber foods help the body produce “happiness hormones.”

Olsen said high-fiber foods like beans and oats have great anti-inflammatory properties. She explained that soluble fiber dissolves in water, forming a gel-like substance that sticks to toxins in the body, which can increase inflammation and cholesterol levels.

Fiber feeds the bacteria in our gut and creates a healthy microbiome. She said our gut produces “happy” hormones like serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which are important hormones for regulating our mood.

“Healing our gut, keeping it healthy is one of the best things we can do to get our seasonal affective disorder in a way that feels really good,” she said.

Replace Added Sugar with Fruit

Olsen said we need to pay special attention to added sugar as the seasons change because it can lower blood sugar levels as well as increase inflammation in the body.

Olsen explained that 15 grams of added sugar will spike blood sugar levels and cause more inflammation than 15 grams of sugar found in fruit.

She said fruits also contain vitamins, minerals and fiber, making them much healthier than foods that often contain added sugar.

Choose lean, organic meats to avoid mood-altering chemicals.

Olsen reports that most meat eaters usually get enough protein on a daily basis. She said the problem comes when people eat mostly processed and fatty meats.

She said meats that are high in saturated fats, hormones and antibiotics can also cause inflammation throughout your body and affect your mood.

Grass-fed organic cuts of meat will help you get enough protein to keep you feeling full and energized, as well as reduce mood-affecting chemicals in your body.

Source: Business Insider