Staying positive in the cold, dark, winter months isn’t always easy. Especially this year, when we’re living through the coronavirus pandemic. We have new worries for our heath, and the health of our loved ones, and can’t all support each other in the usual ways due to social distancing rules and regulations. But there are things we can do to help boost our happy hormones in this difficult time.
“Staying positive during the cold months of winter isn’t always easy,” says nutritionist Amanda Callengberg, “but shifting your mindset and thinking of it as an opportunity to re-energise, restore and indulge in some self-care can make it feel a lot more enjoyable and comforting.”
Here are some key ways to boost your mood during the winter months:
Increase your protein intake
Did you know, serotonin production relies on getting enough protein? Tryptophan and tyrosine are essential amino acids, and your body needs tryptophan to make serotonin, and tyrosine to make dopamine.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. And proteins are the building blocks for hormones. So in short—you need to get enough of the right proteins to keep your serotonin levels steady and your head happy.
Foods high in tryptophan and tyrosine include: meat, fish, eggs, seeds, nuts, oats, chickpeas, bananas, and chocolate (though look for the dark stuff—ideally with a cocoa content of 70% or above).
Top up your Vitamin D
Vitamin D plays a very important role in the production of serotonin and dopamine. While the best source of Vitamin D is the sunshine, we can’t always rely on that in the dark winter months.
But there are some foods that help Vitamin D production, such as oily fish, eggs, mushrooms, and raw dairy, such as milk or cheese.
Eat Omega 3-rich foods
Omega 3 fatty acids are also essential for serotonin production. Foods that are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids include: eggs, nuts, raw milk, leafy green vegetables, and oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and cod.
Don’t forget about Vitamin C
It’s much easier to get enough Vitamin C in the summer months, where we eat Vitamin C-rich citrus fruits in abundance. But it’s even more important to get enough of this good stuff in the winter, as Vitamin C can help to support immunity and recovery, and a strong immune system will help prevent and fight off winter colds.
Nurture your gut health
Did you know, that the majority of your serotonin and about half of your dopamine is made in your gut? It’s easy to think that this all happens in the brain, but the gut is really where the magic happens…
This means that what you eat can have a huge impact on your mental health. The health of your microbiome influences your serotonin and dopamine production, so you need to make sure you’re eating gut-friendly foods that are high in probiotics and fibre, such as live yogurt, sauerkraut, miso, legumes, onions, garlic, and a variety of fruit and vegetables.
“Don’t let the prospect of winter and lockdowns fill you with dread and discomfort,” says Amanda. “Embrace winter for what it’s worth, do what makes you happy, and enjoy the season.”
If you’re looking for super organic foods to support your physical and mental health this winter, check out our online store today.