Winter is upon us and whilst snowflakes, mistletoe and bright frosty mornings are full of seasonal beauty, the next few months can play havoc with your moods, energy levels and immune system!
These top tips will help you through till Spring…
- Low moods & cravings: changes in light levels at this time of year mean your brain can struggle to maintain its uplifting mood hormones. Seasonal Affective Disorder is characterised by mood swings, depression, fatigue and cravings. Your brain is craving sugary foods because insulin (released from your pancreas in response to sugar) helps both sugar utilisation and the delivery of an amino acid called tryptophan into your brain. Tryptophan is converted into serotonin – a crucial mood elevating hormone – and melatonin which regulates sleep. Aim to eat regular small meals and snacks containing good quality protein such as nuts, turkey, seeds or oily fish and complex carbohydrates (oats, oatcakes, wholemeal pasta, buckwheat) to give your brain both the building blocks of mood hormones and some slow releasing sugars to gently stimulate insulin release.
- Dry skin: central heating and freezing winds suck the life out of skin and hair in winter. Top up with plenty of essential fats from nuts, seeds, oily fish, flax seed oil and walnut oil to help your skin retain its natural moisture. Antioxidant rich kiwi fruits, pomegranates, cherries and berries provide vitamin C for skin healing and repair.
- Bloating: very common after a big christmas meal! Take a digestive enzyme supplement or use bitter herbs to stimulate and support your digestive system.
- Zero energy: dark cold days leave you feeling drained and exhausted. Whenever possible get out in the natural sunlight for a brisk walk as exercise oxygenates every cell and stimulates serotonin release which lifts your mood. Stay hydrated with warm water, fresh fruit juices and herb teas as dehydration causes fatigue.
- Colds & flu: not what you want during your Christmas holiday! Take a probiotic supplement and extra vitamin D to keep your immune cells working efficiently and at the first sign of a cold, use a specific immune booster such as echinacea drops, black elderberry extract, manuka honey or propolis.