I had a few clients this week express their concern that they’re going to experience a reoccurrence of their Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) when the sunshine makes its exit for good, and the Autumn / Winter darkness draws in.
SAD also known as ‘Winter Depression’, tends to rear its ugly head around End of October / November, and usually continues through until April/May. Symptoms vary from person to person, but usually, feelings of loneliness, nervousness, sadness, depression and anxiety are experienced, with accompanying physical sensations of aches & pains and fatigue.
The lack of outdoor time and diminished daylight are thought to alter levels of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) ‘serotonin’ and ‘melatonin’, that regulate mood and sleep, respectively. Other factors that can contribute to this condition are; low vitamin D levels, low body oxygen content (usually due to decreased movement), a sluggish liver (especially if there’s a tendency to drink more alcohol and eat richer, higher-fat foods in the winter), and a hypersensitive, inflamed central nervous system.
All these underlying factors can be tackled to reduce the risk of the winter-blues. The good news is that the COVID lockdown had many of us newly experimenting with indoor exercising (‘Thank you’ Joe Wicks and Peloton!). Supplements can be very successful in supporting neurotransmitter synthesis & liver detoxification. Dietary wise, there are many excellent foods and herbs that can support the functioning of the neurological system to balance our emotions.
My 'Sunshine Smoothie' combines seven foods (into one breakfast or a liquid snack) to help muster some positive summer-vibes:-
Recipe: (Serves 1-2)
1 large banana or 2 small bananas
100ml orange juice (fresh or unpasteurised)
Juice of 1/2 lime
100ml coconut water
100ml lemon balm tea (brewed in advance and then cooled)
1 tsp turmeric powder
NB: When the weather gets really chilly, I like to add 1-2 inches of freshly grated ginger for its ‘thermogenic’ (warming & energising) properties. Ginger is also a potent anti-inflammatory, so calms inflamed, hypersensitive nerves.
Place all the ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth. Sip immediately to obtain all the beneficial active enzymes and phytonutrients.
The properties of each ingredient:
Bananas contain Tryptophan, an amino acid precursor to the ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter ‘Serotonin’. The potassium, B6 and glucose content in bananas enhance brain & neurotransmitter function.
Mangoes contain high levels of magnesium, phenolic acids & the amino acids glycine, glutamine and cysteine, to restore depleted neurotransmitters such as serotonin and GABA (a calming, anti-anxiety brain chemical).
Pineapple is rich in vitamin C to support the adrenal glands during periods of stress. Pineapple is also rich in tryptophan to drive up serotonin levels.
Citrus fruits such as orange, lime, clementines, pomelo and lemons, contain highly bioavailable sources of vitamin C, calcium, and electrolytes to calm ‘rapid-fire’ electrical impulses in the brain (aiding anxiety), and to up-regulate mood enhancing neurotransmitter function. The limonoids in citrus fruit protect the liver & central nervous system from the damaging inflammatory effects of free oxidative radicals (unstable molecules) & toxins.
Coconut water is an amazing source of natural electrolytes & ‘healthy’ glucose to feed nerves & brain cells, enhancing the functioning of the central nervous system.
Lemon balm tea has wonderful ‘nervine’ properties to calm hypersensitive nerves and improve mood and cognitive function.
Turmeric (containing ‘curcumin’) is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant shown to stabilise mood and combat depression and anxiety.
If you’d like to learn how dietary and lifestyle changes can keep you smiling throughout winter, text or email me for a complimentary 20 minute health assessment, or book a consultation by going direct to: www.hannahbrownnutrition.com/book-online. For more diet and lifestyle tips, you can also follow me on Instagram:) https://www.instagram.com/hannahbrownnutrition/