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5 Ways to Fight the Winter Blues

When winter rolls around and the cold chill is well and truly in the air, it’s easy to find ourselves in lower moods. There’s a reason some animals go into hibernation in winter…

Rather than dealing with low moods and feeling less than average, there’s plenty we can do to fight off the winter blues. Between healthy habits, lifestyle choices and food, we can cover all of our bases and help ourselves feel happier throughout the colder months.

We’re going to be focusing on foods and nutrients for the majority of this blog post. However, from a lifestyle perspective some things we can do include spending time around positive people, moving our body to get the endorphins flowing, enjoying the beauty of nature, practicing gratitude, staying warm and finding a new hobby. It’s a great time to do more of the things that bring us joy and naturally boost our mood. Plus it takes our mind of how cold it is!

Now that we have lifestyle covered, let’s dive into 5 ways to fight the winter blues through the food that we eat:

 

1. Incorporate plenty of cacao

If you’ve been looking for an excuse to eat chocolate, consider this it! But before you do, be mindful that you’re choosing a good quality cacao powder or dark chocolate for the full benefits.

So why chocolate you ask? Well, there are plenty of great things about cacao but one of these is that it naturally boots our mood. Numerous things may contribute to the mood boosting properties of cacao:

  • The flavanols influence the production of nitric oxide, which can relax our blood vessels and improve blood flow to the brain.
  • As a source of tryptophan, this amino acid can be converted into serotonin, also known as the happiness neurotransmitter (more on that later).
  • The caffeine content, which blocks our adenosine receptors, prevents us from feeling tired and may improve mood and focus.
  • The pure enjoyment we get from eating chocolate, which in turn can put us in a better mood.


We can gain all of these benefits by having warm mugs of healthy hot chocolate, eating a high percentage dark chocolate and flavouring things with cacao (for example smoothies, porridge, bircher, granola and more). Our choice is an organic raw cacao powder or a dark chocolate that’s 85% or higher. Check these chocolate themed goodies out:

 

Power Super Foods Cacao Powder

Ingredients: Certified Organic Raw Cacao
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Pico Super Dark Chocolate

Ingredients: Cocoa Solids (Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Butter), Organic Sugar, Vanilla Pods.

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Jomeis Fine Foods Cacao Latte

Ingredients: Cacao (80%), Coconut Milk Powder, Himalayan Salt, Mint Oil (1%), Stevia.
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2. Sip on some warming bone broth

This may seem like a strange one for fighting off the winter blues, but it can actually work twofold. Sipping on warming bone broth will help warm us up from the inside out… we don’t know about you but being warm certainly improves our mood. Additionally, bone broth is beneficial for gut health and the health of our gut has a big impact on our mood. Did you know that 90% of serotonin is made in the gut? Without a healthy environment and the right nutrients, we don’t have optimal serotonin production and therefore our mood takes a hit.

The reason bone broth is good for our gut is due to the gelatin that it contains. Gelatin contains an amino acid known as glutamine, which is beneficial for our intestinal lining and can help prevent leaky gut. Having a healthy gut lining prevents foreign substances from passing through and can reduce inflammation. Not only is inflammation the root of most illness, it may also impact our mood. Therefore, by reducing or preventing inflammation, our mood can be supported too.

Bone broth also contains an amino acid called glycine, which is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that can help us feel calm, decrease anxiety and benefit sleep. All of these things can help improve our mood and therefore are great to help us fight off the winter blues.

You can stock up on some of our favourite bone broths here:

 

The Good Bones Organic Chicken Bone Broth

Ingredients: Certified Organic Chicken Bones and frames from Inglewood Farms, free from hormones and antibiotics, Filtered water, free from added chemicals like fluoride and chlorine, Certified Organic, Australian-grown vegetables and herbs including carrot, onion, garlic and seasonal herbs, Bio-dynamic apple cider vinegar, Olsson’s 100% sea salt.

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Gevity RX Body Glue X Immuno Tonic

Ingredients: 100% Grass-Fed Beef Bones (60%), Fire Tonic (30%) (Aged Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar, Raw Honey, Chillies, Turmeric, Garlic, Horseradish, Ginger, Carrot, Celery, Red Onion, Brown Onion, Apple, Orange, Lemon, Brown Mustard Seed, Parsley, Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, Juniper Berries, Black Peppercorns, Bay Leaves, Szechuan Pepper, Himalayan Salt), Naturally Evaporated Sea Salt, Turmeric, Ginger, Black Pepper, Lemon Myrtle.

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Nutra Organics Beef Bone Broth - Garden Herb

Ingredients: Grass Fed Beef Bone Broth (77%)(Beef Bones, Beef Broth, Collagen, Pacific Sea Salt, Apple Cider Vinegar*), Tapioca Starch*, Deactivated Nutritional Savoury Flakes, Black Pepper.
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3. Eat plenty of oily fish

Winter is a time when we get less vitamin D because we’re spending less time in the sun. While sunshine is the best source of this important nutrient, we can also get small amounts through the foods that we eat. One of these sources is oily fish. Different types of oily fish we can gain some vitamin D from include salmon, sardines, herring and canned tuna.

Vitamin D is important for our mood because it can play a role in regulating our mood. It has been suggested that low vitamin D levels can be linked to depression and other mood conditions. Therefore, foods that can boost our vitamin D levels (even if they only contain small amounts) are great to incorporate to prevent this.

It’s recommended that we get a few serves of oily fish per week. Another benefit of this is the healthy fats, including omega-3 that these type of fish contain. Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid, which means we need to get it through our diet. It has anti-inflammatory properties and can support brain health, which in turn impacts our mood and nervous system health too.

There’s plenty of oily fish on the GoodnessMe that we can enjoy and gain some additional vitamin D from, here are a few to check out:

 

Good Fish Alaskan Salmon In Brine

Ingredients: Alaskan Salmon, water, salt.

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Stock Merchant Mackerel in Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Ingredients: Tuna (fish) (70.8%), organic extra virgin olive oil* (28%), salt. *28% of ingredients of agricultural are organic

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Good Fish Sardines in Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

Ingredients: Sardines, Organic EV Olive Oil 35%, Salt.
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4. Enjoy some immunity drinks

Nothing says winter blues like feeling ‘under the weather’ and getting sick. A great way to help our body fight off a cold or flu is by enjoying plenty of immune supportive ingredients. One place we can get these is immunity drinks. Immunity drinks can contain ingredients like lemon, orange, ginger, kombucha, turmeric, berries, apple cider vinegar and more. There are different things behind why each of these ingredients support the immune system, but let’s run through just a couple:

  • Turmeric helps decrease inflammation and inflammation is considered the root of many illnesses.
  • Lemon and other citrus fruits like orange, lime and grapefruit are all sources of vitamin C, an important nutrient for the health of our immune system.
  • Berries are packed full of antioxidants, which also help prevent inflammation in the body.
  • Kombucha is a fermented drink, which supports the health of our gut thanks to the probiotics it contains.

As we can see, there’s plenty of great ingredients that can support our immune system and prevent us from getting sick (or potentially help us recover quicker). While eating these things is a great option, another fun thing to do is drink them. Give these examples of immunity drinks a try:

 

Nexba Nootropics Immunity Lemon & Ginger

Ingredients: Purified Sparkling Water, Apple Cider Vinegar, Nexba Natural Sweetener Blend (**Erythritol, Stevia), Food Acids***, Natural Flavours, Probiotic Culture (Bacillus Coagulans).

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Remedy Shot Immune+ Lemon & Lime

Ingredients: Raw Kombucha (pure water, wild kombucha culture, black tea*, green tea*), plant-based sweeteners (erythritol* and steviol glycosides*), lemon juice*, natual lemon, lime & lemongrass flavours, natural extracts (quinoa sprouts, acerola cherries, blakeslea trispora)
*Certified Organic

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Aloe Vera of Australia Immune Recovery

Ingredients: 95% Pure Aloe Vera Barbadensis Miller Extract, Cold Pressed Inner Leaf Juice, 5% Manuka Honey
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5. Focus on tryptophan rich foods

An amino acid that is required for the production of serotonin (our happiness neurotransmitter), tryptophan is an important nutrient to focus on when we want to naturally support our mood. We can find tryptophan in foods like turkey, chicken, eggs, oats, cheese, fish, seeds, milk, tofu and peanuts. As it’s an amino acid, we can also find it in various other protein sources. Aim to incorporate a least one source of tryptophan per day.

Remember that our gut health is directly linked to the production of serotonin, so looking after our gut is also important when increasing our tryptophan consumption. An easy way to support our gut is by focusing on real foods and getting lots of variety in. The same goes for the tryptophan rich foods, try to change up which sources you incorporate to support gut diversity and further benefit our mood.

Speaking of variety, eating lots of colours is a great way to fight off the winter blues… who doesn’t love colourful, beautiful meals.

Along with being involved in serotonin production, tryptophan can support better quality sleep and help us feel calm. When we’re better rested, we’re generally happier people, and when we’re calmer, we’re less irritable and tend to be more relaxed.

Here are some products that can help us increase our tryptophan consumption:

 

Ceres Organics Rolled Oats

Ingredients: Certified Organic Whole Grain Oats
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Mayvers Crunchy Peanut Butter

Ingredients: Roasted Peanuts (99.3%) & Sea Salt.
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Sometimes we forget the power that food can have over our mood. We hope the above 5 tips have inspired you to make healthy choices and use these tasty options to help fight off the winter blues. We know we’ll certainly be working our way through this list over the winter months.

It’s important to note that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing and can occur at this time of year. SAD is a mood disorder, with symptoms including depression, fatigue, hopelessness and withdrawal. If you’re feeling down this winter, make sure you reach out for help. There’s no shame in needing support and having someone to talk to can make all the difference.

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About the author: Shahna Sarpi is a qualified nutritionist that is on a mission to help people live a nourished life through real food and healthy habits. She loves simplifying food labels and helping people make healthier food choices. Shahna is passionate about spreading the real food message and supporting people in living a healthy life.

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