The Best Foods to Fend Off SAD, According to Experts

If you’re suffering from a “Blue Christmas,” try eating less candy candies and more pomegranates. If you suffer from a form of depression called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), adopting a healthier diet may improve your mood.

Many people feel (literally) sad during the winter holidays. For some people, sadness is a cyclical event associated with the change of seasons. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is caused by less than normal exposure to sunlight due to the short days during winter It is thought to cause chemical changes in the brain. Common symptoms of SAD include fatigue, depression, hopelessness, and social withdrawal. Typical treatments include light therapy, talk therapy, and antidepressants. But dietary changes can also help.

Although some studies failed to find specific nutritional interventions to alleviate symptoms, other clinical studies have shown that foods and specific nutrients that improve clinical depression may also be effective in reducing SAD. Registered dietitians and other nutrition professionals often ask patients suffering from SAD to eliminate certain foods and add healthier foods to see if they feel any improvement. It is often recommended that

“I often use the term ‘blue gut’ when discussing depression with my patients. Uma Naidoo, MD, a nutritional psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School and director of Nutrition and Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Food affects the chemical messages that bacteria send from the gut to the brain. These signals can make you feel tired and depressed or energized and elevated.”

Try taking a strategic approach to your diet by incorporating these foods and healthy habits into your daily routine to improve the health of your gut microbiome and hopefully cut off these sad clouds. house proposal.

RELATED: 12 best foods to eat when you’re feeling anxious, according to science

Try fermented foods

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Kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, kefir, and yogurt promote good bacteria in your gut. Naidoo suggests that this may raise certain brain chemicals that may help alleviate depression.

Eat more berries and leafy greens

Naidoo says they’re a good choice because they’re packed with antioxidants and other brain-friendly nutrients. was found to be associated with improved mental health and reduced depression.

Naidoo also claims vegetables such as kale, spinach, arugula and collard greens are great for protecting mental health and supporting cognitive function.

Nut & Seed Snacks

According to Naidoo, walnuts are particularly beneficial for brain health because they contain tryptophan, an amino acid necessary for the production of the mood-stabilizing hormone serotonin.

Up the turmeric (and other spices)

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“Think of winter warming spices: nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger,” says Naidoo.

Turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, in particular, has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that protect the brain.

“Took [turmeric] Add a pinch of black pepper for better absorption,” suggests Naidoo.

follow the Mediterranean diet

Olives, olive oil, vegetables of all kinds, beans, nuts, seeds, and fish all go along with a Mediterranean-style diet.

“Most people know that what they eat affects their weight, heart and diabetes risk, but not many people understand how much of their diet affects depression. Bill Bradley, RD, President of Mediterranean

Studies have shown that switching from a diet of highly processed foods to a Mediterranean diet significantly reduces the risk of depression in men and women, as well as in older adults.

“Diets high in ultra-processed foods increase the risk of depression, so the combination of removing processed foods and increasing nutritious foods doubled the mood-enhancing effects of the Mediterranean diet. ,” says Bradley.

Let go of sugar plums and find balance

Family eating a healthy holiday meal
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Avoid large amounts of Christmas candy, cookies, and sugary drinks. At a holiday buffet (or just grab a bite). Those treats can make you feel worse.

Studies have shown that high sugar intake has a negative impact on psychological health and can contribute to and exacerbate symptoms of depression in general.

“Eating sugary treats can mess with your blood sugar and make you feel like you’re on a roller coaster instead of a flat road,” warns a registered dietitian nutritionist. Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, CDNand the author of Read Before You Eat: From Label to Table.

Also, be aware of eating habits common to SAD patients. An analysis of her six studies, published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, found that compared to healthy patients, SAD patients ate significantly more at the end of the day and snacked more at night. It turns out that there is a tendency. They also showed a higher frequency of binge eating and emotional eating habits. That’s why Taub-Dix says it’s important not to skip meals or eat restrictive, unrealistic meals.

“Eat regularly. It’s true that when you balance your diet, you feel more balanced,” advises Taub-Dix.

Choose Carbohydrates – But Carefully

Think about it: When we don’t feel great, we usually crave the foods we were given as children, foods that make us feel good, foods that don’t require much effort to digest and absorb. Usually this type of food is carbohydrate. Fats and proteins take a long time to break down in the digestive system, whereas carbohydrates break down quickly.

“Too many people say negative things about carbs, but if you eat the right kind of carbs in the right amount for your body, carbs can actually make you feel better,” says Taub-Dix. “Eating carbs gives you energy and lifts your mood. It creates a calming sensation.”

Calm the serotonin flood from slow-burning carbs such as whole grain breads, potatoes and pasta, which are packed with fiber and protein, rather than sugary carbs that instantly calm you down.

final thoughts

Keep in mind that not all meals are created equal. Foods that may bring happiness to one person with SAD may bring heartburn, headaches, and even worse depression to another person with SAD. It means personalizing to each individual’s needs.”

Naidoo always offers SAD sufferers two pieces of advice to help ease the winter blues. First, she emphasizes the importance of fostering healthy relationships. Interacting with her friends and family and being involved in the community have proven effects on depression symptoms. Additionally, she highlights the valuable impact of being outdoors.

“Just 10 minutes of outdoor time provides about 80 percent of your daily vitamin D requirement to support your mood,” says Naidoo.

Something very important to keep in mind. Adjusting your diet can sometimes help alleviate the symptoms of SAD, but a healthy diet is only part of the solution to alleviating symptoms. People with significant and prolonged symptoms should inform their doctor to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that includes talk therapy and medication in addition to dietary changes.

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