Beating Winter Blues with Serotonin Boosting Foods
The wintertime is a wonderful time of the year to gather with friends and family and enjoy time together, sharing company, stories, and meals to avoid the dark and the cold outdoors. But it can also be a time for many where they feel an increased sense of sadness, possibly even leading to depression. Whether it’s missing a loved one or feeling sad and isolated from being cooped up inside, many older adults are susceptible to suffering from the “winter blues”.
One easy and simple way to improve mental health and reduce the risk of seasonal depression is through healthy eating. Diets that are generally high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and other lean meats, are often associated with a decreased risk of depression. Additionally, there is strong research that shows that a diet high in serotonin boosting foods can help to counteract the effects of shorter and colder winter days.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a brain chemical, that is important for mood, sleep regulation, and hunger cues. Our gut contains a high number of serotonin receptors, and as such, a high quality diet can have a great impact on mental health. Foods especially high in tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid, can promote serotonin production, thus possibly having a great impact on emotional well-being. Foods high in tryptophan include salmon, nuts, eggs, cheese, pineapple, and turkey.
Additionally, nuts are high in magnesium, which is another nutrient associated with combating anxiety, and helping to boost mood. To help get through the winter months, consider keeping a can of mixed or your favorite nuts on hand to snack on through the day.