Chase Those Blues Away!

February 09, 2012

The days are growing longer, yet many of us are still suffering from 'seasonal affective disorder,' commonly known as the winter blues. For most people, seasonal affective disorder symptoms start in the fall and continue throughout the winter months, causing fatigue and moodiness. The winter blues are a real physical reaction to the world we live in.  Reduced sunlight can lower serotonin levels and cause depression. A regular exercise routine works wonders and should be part of your daily regimen, but there are also specific foods and nutrients to help you chase the blues away!
  • Omega 3: Omega-3 fatty acids are plentiful in the brain abd is the top fat found in the synaptic connections between study of nearly 100 boys found that those with lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids had more learning and behavioral problems  than boys with normal omega-3 fatty acid levels. Vital to normal growth and development,  omega-3 may be just as important to the elderly as it is to newborns, with low omega-3 levels possibly being a contributing factor in stroke and Alzheimer’s disease. Omega-3s are found in fatty fish, such as salmon, shrimp and sardines, or in flax seeds and walnuts.  Studies have found that the populations that eat the most fish have the lowest rates of depression, bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, and seasonal affective disorder.
  • Lycopene: Lycopene helps maintain mood by preventing the formation of pro-inflammatory compounds like interleukin-6, that are associated with depression. It also protects against different cancers, including breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancers. One study of elderly nuns found that those with the most lycopene in their blood lived an average of eleven years longer than those with the lowest levels!  Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene and also contain iron, tryptophan, and vitamin B6: the main ingredients needed by your brain to produce important mood-regulating neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Watermelon is another terrific source of lycopene. Different studies have found that  you can boost the levels of lycopene by up to 40 percent by letting it sit at room temperature for several days.
  • Capsaicin: Capsaicini is the nutrient that creates the heat in chile pepppers and is the pepper's natural protection agains pests. What does that mean to us?  The brain is filled with receptors for capsaicin, which respond to the heat of capsaicin by releasing endorphins, the peptides produced by pituary glands that are related to morphine and have a calming effect. Capsaicin also destroys carcinogens in our food and has even been shown to protect the brain during liver failure.
  • Folate: Beets are one of the best sources of the B vitamin folate. Folate is crucial for good mood, memory retrieval, and  the speed of thought processes. Beets are also packed with betaine, which our brain uses to form SAM-e, a natural antidepressant and uridine, which aids in the production of  the brain's synaptic connections. A combination of uridine and omega-3s has been show to be as effective as prescription antidepressants in animal studies!
Follow some simple to fitness and nutrition guidelines, and you'll trade those blues in for a rosy outlook!  

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