Keep your mental health in check as the cold, dark days draw in with the following advice from Olga Hamilton, our VP of Nutrigenetic Science here at Nutri-Genetix.
One in three people suffer from SAD, a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. And with lockdown 2.0, some of us are getting even less outdoor exposure than usual as everyday routines grind to a halt.
Olga Hamilton has four tips to boost your mood and combat SAD with effective nutrition and supplementation.
1. Optimise omega-3 intake
A recent meta-analysis of double-blind randomised placebo-controlled trials confirmed that omega-3 has beneficial effects on depression and SAD (1).
Optimise your omega-3 intake by getting plenty of the following:
- Nuts and seeds (such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts)
- Plant oils (such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil)
- Fortified foods (such as certain brands of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, soy drinks)
- Fish and other seafood (especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines)
2. Big up B vitamins
Evidence from human research clearly shows that a significant proportion of the populations of developed countries suffer from deficiencies or insufficiencies in one or more B vitamins (2).
Vitamin B6 helps your body make serotonin and can therefore help to combat the side effects of SAD.
B vitamins can be found in the following foods:
- Whole grains (brown rice, barley, millet)
- Meat (red meat, poultry, fish)
- Eggs and dairy products (milk, cheese)
- Legumes (beans, lentils)
- Seeds and nuts (sunflower seeds, almonds)
- Dark, leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, kai lan)
- Fruits (citrus fruits, avocados, bananas)
3. Get your 5-a-day – minimum
A 2019 study on diet and depression found that high consumption of fruits and vegetables has been associated with a lower risk of depression or depressive symptoms, while high-fat western diets and sugar-sweetened drinks have been associated with higher risk of depression or depressive symptoms (3).
The take-home? Consume the recommended five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables per day (80g per portion), and curb your sweet tooth as much as possible.
4. Get outside
Spend more time in sunlight. Take advantage of the fact we’re still able to exercise outdoors. Set yourself a challenge during lockdown to keep up the recommended 10,000 steps a day.
For those wishing to gain a deeper insight and check their vitamin D receptor sensitivity, we offer a DNA test which produces a comprehensive nutrition report. Using these findings, our nutritionists are able to formulate a unique blend of 'BodyFuel', containing key nutrients that you may be missing needed for optimal health and wellbeing.