Improve your Mood with Nutrition Tips for Blue Monday!

Whilst most of us are now back to work and leaving the home before daylight and leaving work when the sun has gone in. This lack of light can affect about 3% population with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) ‘winter blues’ according to BUPA.

 

As many of you know we are fast approaching Blue Monday and it’s a time of year where we can do a little to overcome those blues. Blue Monday is “suggested” to be the most depressing day of the year – but there’s no science in it.

 

There is some science behind why this time of year can be challenging though. Serotonin (the feel-good hormone) production requires light. During the longer winter nights there is a higher conversion of serotonin to the sleep hormone melatonin. So naturally you may be feeling more fatigued at this time of year, and potentially find the need for more sleep. Serotonin is well documented as a good mood hormone. You may be surprised to learn that serotonin is made from tryptophan, a chemical in the body which needs vitamin D to make it active. We’re only just beginning to discover the benefits of vitamin D – certainly we know about bone health and osteoporosis prevention, but now we also think there are links to mental health and immunity too! As lower serotonin levels can be responsible for low mood onset, you may even find yourself reaching for more carbs and sweets, which can lead to unwanted weight gain, so it’s important to try and address the root cause.

 

So, we offer you some nutritional science know-how, which may help to uplift your feelings and may even boost serotonin levels, so if you do find yourself a little overwhelmed during this time of year, choosing a healthier diet with foods rich or fortified in vitamin D could really serve you well. That’s just another great example of why plant-based diets rich in these vitamins may be great for you and may look after your mind and body. Another great reason to indulge in an Indian spiced mushroom or spinach dish at this time of year.

 

Other top tips to look after your mental health beyond Blue Monday

Order your favourite meal (or bhajis and samosas). An act of kindness to yourself will always work, but sharing is even better. Why not treat a friend?

Keep active – Research has suggested that exercise is a huge contributor to releasing hormones that make us happy and a brisk walk 3 times a week of around 30 minutes can keep us in much better shape

Eat well – guidelines suggest a varied colourful plate of over 30 fruit and vegetables per week ideally, which is just about 5 a day. Don’t be afraid to experience and experiment with new vegetables and tastes

Drink sensibly – Though many are observing dry January, that’s not to say we all are. Hugh in sugar drinks and alcohol can soon add up. You may not realise just how sugar can cause inflammation in the body, but take our word for it, it can alter mood and energy levels. More on this in future.

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