Cold winter weather can bring about winter blues; it is because our body starts craving sunlight and vitamin D, lack of vitamin D in the body can bring about blues and depression. This is especially true for someone who lives in a very cold and frigid weather, where there is snow and bad weather through most of the winter months that causes life to become stale. The low mood can be caused by several factors; serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is secreted in the brain and predominantly in our digestive tract, it influences moods, emotions, sleep, cravings for carbohydrates (as this chemical is secreted when we eat carbohydrates), it is known as a “happy hormone” as it influences our mood.
Serotonin production is limited heavily due to lack of sunlight exposure; too much stress can also cause a dip in serotonin secretion, so what should you do to avoid winter blues due to lack of serotonin? Smile more often, when you smile it reduces stress and your body releases endorphins and serotonin, both are natural pain killers and mood boosters, both these chemicals also strengthen immune system and help you fight off infections by viruses and bacteria. Take as much sunshine as you can, if weather permits and its sunny outdoors, do take a walk outdoors and take in sunshine. Sunlight is important for the health of your bones.
To avoid winter blues, take in vitamin B6 and B12, vitamin B6 supports the production of serotonin in the brain, either you should eat foods rich in vitamins or consult your physician for a vitamin supplement. Meditation is a great way to control stress and heal the body; it also helps in the release of mood boosting brain chemicals. Meditation activates the left prefrontal cortex that is known as the “happiness-producing” part of the brain. Low levels of serotonin are not just linked to depression, but sleep apnea, insomnia, migraines and other ailments. L-tryptophan stimulates serotonin production, foods rich in this amino acid are meat, poultry, nuts and dairy.
It is important to eat a balanced diet, especially if you want to ward off winter blues, and that means you cannot exclude a food group from your diet, you must eat healthy carbohydrates to feel good. There are many healthy foods that can help maintain the levels of serotonin and keep you happy and ecstatic even in the winter months, these foods include eggs (including yolks), cheese, pineapples, tofu, salmon, nuts and seeds, and turkey. Exercising every day and working out in the sun can really lift your mood, and is great for both the mind and the body, have a positive outlook in life and enjoy winters!
Curious to know what your serotonin levels are? Schedule A Chat with Dr. Susan Stukes