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  • Writer's pictureThomas Bosch PhD RDN LDN

Eat More Plants to Fight the Winter Blues

Updated: Jan 4, 2020

Research has found that eating a plant-based diet can significantly improve depression, anxiety, and overall productivity. Between you and me, even if you are not struggling with the winter blues, who isn’t looking to be more productive in 2019? Isn’t that why New Year resolutions are so popular? Anyway, keep reading as I share tips on how to eat more plants to fight depression, decrease anxiety and increase productivity.

Your mood-boosting answers are in eating more antioxidant-rich foods Researchers have found a link between an increase in fruit and vegetables with a decrease in depression, anxiety, and overall poor mental health. Foods rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals help combat inflammation, reducing oxidative stress in the brain and let’s face it, any way to reduce stress, is a very good thing! A few foods rich in antioxidants that are also associated with a boost in one’s mental health include blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, spinach, kale, and apples. Snack on foods that promote a boost in serotonin Serotonin is a chemical believed to boost mood and promote healthy sleeping patterns, something the winter months often disrupt. Eating foods that are high in the essential amino acid, tryptophan, help your body produce more serotonin. Plant-based foods that are high in tryptophan include spinach, soy, nuts, and seeds. Salmon, poultry, and eggs are also good sources of tryptophan. Munch on sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, and chia seeds Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and also naturally high in tryptophan, seeds are powerful in helping to boost mood and fight depression. Next time you are looking for something to munch on, swap out your standard bag of chips with a handful of sunflower or pumpkin seeds. Other ways to incorporate more mood-boosting seeds into your diet include adding flax or chia seeds to your oatmeal, smoothies, salads, whole grain pancakes, and muffins. Sip on green tea In a study published by the Public Health of Nutrition, people who consumed about four cups of green tea a day had about a fifty percent chance of feeling happier than the non-green tea drinking counterparts. The study found the more green tea a person drank, the less depressed they felt. Not only is green tea rich in antioxidants, but the actual ritual of making and sipping on hot tea can help slow down and calm the mind, resulting in a positive mood shift. Spice things up in the kitchen Using spices for medicinal treatment has been going on around the world for thousands of years. Research has revealed that spices can be effective in improving mental health and well-being. Some of the most powerful mood-boosting spices include turmeric, cloves, capsaicin, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Please note that while nutmeg is a good mood-boosting spice, consuming two or more teaspoons at a time can be toxic. Moral of the story - eating more fruits and vegetables can help fight the winter blues by making you feel happier, calmer, and more energetic.

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