Beat the winter blues with mood food
When the sun sets at 5pm and the winter chill sets in, it seems more difficult to have a happy, positive spirit. Peter Jordaan, Principal Officer of Fedhealth says that you will be surprised to discover how the food you choose to eat can boost your mood and immunity.
"Although it seems like common sense, it is important to re-evaluate your diet when your mood and your immune system feel down. Small adjustments to your diet and eating habits will do much to keep you happier and healthier these coming winter months," says Jordaan.
Cape Town-based nutritionist Chantal Deacon Daniel recommends balancing blood sugar by eliminating refined carbohydrates, eating small frequent meals and avoiding sugar, preservatives and colourants as ways to boost your mood. "Dark-green leafy vegetables are rich in magnesium and an important mineral for mood support and should be included in your winter diet. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables every day," comments Deacon Daniel.
"Also try to include cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna or mackerel in your diet. They are high in omega-3 fats as are nuts and seeds (specifically flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and walnuts) and free-range organic eggs. Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important for mood, and taking a daily supplement should be considered."
She also recommends raw cacao, the bean that chocolate is made of; thanks to its high levels of magnesium. "Magnesium is needed for serotonin production and balancing brain chemistry and has a great anti-depressant effect," adds Deacon Daniel. "It also contains phenylethylamine and anandamide (known as the "bliss chemical"), as well as tryptophan (the precursor to 5-HTP which is the precursor to serotonin). Snack on it, but just make sure that the product is raw and organic."
Eating foods rich in nutrients that support your immune system will help give rundown immune systems a much needed boost. "Vitamin C is great for immune support and is found in red and green peppers, parsley, guavas and citrus fruit as well as goji berries and camu-camu berries. These berries are also referred to as super-foods as they are whole foods that are not fractionalised with minerals and supplements and are easily absorbed by the body," comments Deacon Daniel.
Zinc is another important mineral for the immune system function. It can be found in oysters, pumpkin seeds, oats, eggs, ginger, pecan nuts, and Brazil nuts, the latter also being rich in selenium, another important mineral for immune function. Fresh garlic also has strong immune-supportive properties and can help fight infections caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
Katherine Tudsbury, a nutritional therapist with her diploma in Nutritional Medicine from Thames Valley University and practicing at Innate Health in Cape Town, recommends avoiding refined sugar and processed carbohydrates, "as sugar suppresses the immune system". Tudsbury also explains that including ginger, garlic and oranges will boost your system; while warm foods, like soup and stews will boost the mind.
Both experts recommend avoiding the intake of alcohol or any other stimulants, such as coffee and cigarettes, particularly if you are feeling sick, as these tend to weaken the immune system. Rather stick to water, herbal teas and hot water with lemon and honey.
A healthy, balanced diet, including food that is as natural as possible; and, of course, sharing meals with friends and family will all help beat the cold, leaving you feeling content and comforted.
It's time to eat your way to happiness and health.
Cathy Findley Public Relations
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