7 Foods That Can Help Lift the Seasonal Blues

Some foods can affect your brain in a positive way.


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You are what you eat may be more than just a saying. Food can actually make you feel good. Besides enjoying the aroma, taste, and presentation of your meals, there are foods that can affect your brain in a positive way.

That’s because certain foods can affect brain chemicals, called neurotransmitters, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Three of the major ones are serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

Serotonin which enhances calmness and lessens depression is made from the amino acid tryptophan which is found in fruits, starches and sugars. Dopamine and norepinephrine that enhance mental concentration come from the amino acid tyrosine that is released after eating protein.

Now, when the days are getting shorter, this is the time when people begin to experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is the best time to fortify your defenses and let the foods you eat help to fight the winter blues.

Dairy and Vitamin D

Shorter days mean that you may not be getting enough of the sunshine vitamin. Getting enough vitamin D can help ward off depression symptoms, boost your mood, and strengthen your immunity. To get enough vitamin D, eat fortified dairy products like milk and yogurt (ones containing live bacteria cultures will also help your gut health), eggs, mushrooms, and fish that have bones like sardines.

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Walnuts are powerhouses of energy and nutrients because they are full of protein, monounsaturated fats, antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Everyday Health includes walnuts on its depression diet because omega-3 supports brain health. The Cleveland Clinic recommends snacking on walnuts and other tree nuts, eating nut butters, sprinkling them on salads or cereals to increase the amounts of nuts you eat this season.

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Most people know that the tryptophan in turkey relaxes you and makes you want to sleep – it’s a good bedtime snack – after your Thanksgiving feast, but it can also enhance your mood because it stimulates serotonin. In fact, according to Everyday Health, all lean proteins like chicken, salmon, and lean meat will also give you a boost of the natural feel good chemical but turkey has an edge.

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Dark Chocolate

Eating dark chocolate makes you feel better. It's true! The darker the better. Eating 70 percent or higher dark chocolate is chock full of nutrients including the antioxidant polyphenol.  A 2013 study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that participants who drank a dark chocolate beverage every day for a month had significantly improved moods. Now you can indulge your sweet tooth daily.

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Red and Purple Berries

Life today is stressful and cortisol, your fight or flight hormone, gets kicked into action on when your body is stressed. Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries can help prevent the release of cortisol according to Healthline.  Berries can also help fight seasonal depression because they contain a host of antioxidants that improve your overall health and wellbeing. So, add berries to your cereal, yogurt or eat them plain to feel berry good.

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Leafy Greens

Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and romaine lettuce are high in folic acid which can boost your mood because it aids in the production of serotonin, according to Healthline. The connection between mood and folic acid was researched in a 2017 study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research that found that people who are depressed have lower blood levels of folic acid. So, this winter, load up on greens – raw or cooked – because they contain a host of other nutrients too.

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Bananas 7

Bananas are a superfruit. And just like turkey, they contain tryptophan but there is more. Bananas contain natural sugars and potassium that are good brain fuel and magnesium that may help you sleep better according to Health. A change in sleep patterns is a symptom of SAD so bananas make a good bedtime or anytime snack.

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