Summer immunity: top tips for staying well this season

Summer is not generally the time when we think about supporting the immune system. However, summer colds and infections are still prevalent at this time of year. Plus, for those unfortunate allergy sufferers, having a tip-top immune system can help control the unpleasant symptoms.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her five top immune-boosting nutrients to keep you bug-free through the summer.

SMALLER--4 Suzie Blog pic

VITAMIN C

Warranting its ‘top spot’ on the list of immune-boosting nutrients, Vitamin C is anti-viral and anti-bacterial so can help to keep unwanted invaders at bay. It’s also a nutrient that plays a key part in the control of the body’s release of histamine, so it can also help to manage the symptoms of allergies.

Vitamin C is easily destroyed in foods through storage, preparation and cooking. Therefore, eating raw fruits and vegetables ensures higher amounts of vitamin C are obtained from food. If you are cooking, lightly steaming vegetables is a much better way of retaining vitamin C. Frozen fruits and vegetables also make a good choice; they’re generally frozen quite quickly after harvest, hence more of their nutrient content is retained.

Summer is a great time for finding foods high in vitamin C as there are so many readily available. For example, strawberries are at their very best right now, as are other vitamin C-rich fruits such as blackberries and cherries. Vegetables including red peppers and broccoli are also great sources.

VITAMIN D

Known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, and there’s certainly plenty of that around at the moment, we still need to keep vitamin D levels topped up all year round. It’s an immune-essential but not that readily available in foods. However, oily fish, beef, mushrooms and milk contain some vitamin D2; the body prefers vitamin D3 which is produced on the skin when exposed to sunlight and is available in good-quality food supplements.

Vitamin D production on the skin is blocked by high factor sun cream. Therefore, it is advisable to try to expose arms or legs to the sun for around 15 minutes a day if possible, before applying sun cream.

A supplement containing a minimum of 10 micrograms of Vitamin D is recommended daily by Public Health England to ensure the body has sufficient levels and, most importantly, means you should be less susceptible to colds and infections during the summer months.

ECHINACEA

A well-known and loved herb, Echinacea helps to increase white blood cell production, which in turn can help support the immune system. If you’re susceptible to colds then it’s certainly worth taking Echinacea as a preventative remedy (as we know, prevention is always better than cure), particularly if you’re around people who are infected or if you are just starting to feel the first signs of a cold.

The herb is readily available in health food stores but always look for the THR symbol on pack; this stands for Traditional Herbal Remedy and means it’s a fully licensed herbal medicine, therefore the quality and efficacy of the herb can be guaranteed.

VITAMIN A

Vitamin A is another great supporter of the immune system. It is found in animal products but the body also produces it from beta-carotene as needed.

Foods such as meat, dairy and fish provide good sources of retinol-based vitamin A which is much easier for the body to utilise. However, the body can convert carotenoids such as beta-carotene (which is the best source of pro-vitamin A) from fruits, vegetables and nuts into Vitamin A. Sweet potatoes and carrots contain some of the highest amounts of beta-carotene and the body will convert it into Vitamin A when it is required.

ZINC

It’s the hardest working mineral within the immune system and indeed, it works pretty hard throughout the body. Zinc increases the production of immune cells, plus it helps produce natural killer cells which are needed to kill viruses and bacteria.

Zinc is found in animal and vegetable foods with spinach being the top plant-based source. Oysters, red meat, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and kidney beans are all great providers of zinc. It’s best to try to include at least one of these foods in the diet each day. Alternatively, take a supplement containing zinc throughout the year to keep the immune system in good shape and avoid those annoying summer colds.

So don’t miss a moment of summer due to a cold: with a few simple diet tweaks you can prepare your body to be fighting fit.

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Pea power: discover the nutrients and health benefits

A bowl of fresh green peas and a pea pod

Peas are in season right now, so they’ll be tasting their very best and will deliver wonderfully healthy nutrients. They are a great summertime food and can be included in lots of different recipes. Moreover, they come in a variety of shapes and sizes as we’ll find out!

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, gives us the low-down on peas.

SMALLER--4 Suzie Blog pic

VARIETIES OF PEA

From the family known as Fabaceae, we are all acquainted with the traditional green pea. However, they also come as mange tout (often known as snow peas) and sugar snap peas. Peas can also be dried and are then usually called split peas. Peas are legumes, which are plants that bear fruit in the form of pods. Of course sugar snap peas and mange tout contain edible pods, whereas green or garden peas have a much tougher outer pod which isn’t usually eaten.

Green peas are very often eaten from frozen and are a ‘staple’ vegetable that most of us have in the freezer. From the moment they are harvested, peas start to lose their vitamin C content and their natural sugar content starts to be converted into starch. As freezing usually takes place very quickly after the pods have been picked, their chemical changes will be minimal. Frozen peas still contain far more nutrients than tinned peas, providing plenty of fibre, folate (great for the heart) and the bone-loving mineral, phosphorus.

OTHER HEALTH BENEFITS OF PEAS

All richly coloured fruits and vegetables contain wonderful health benefits, in particular, a wealth of antioxidant nutrients to prevent disease and to help hold back the years. However, peas in particular also contain high concentrations of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. These two nutrient jewels are known to protect eye health; they seem to block blue light from reaching the retina which can lead to macular degeneration. Moreover, these carotenoids promote good eye health generally and help maintain good eye sight long into old age.

Peas are also very low in fat, high in vitamin K (also good for the heart and bones), as well as energy-giving vitamin B1.

HOW TO ENJOY PEAS

Peas are most often eaten as a vegetable side dish, as are mange tout and sugar snaps, but they’re also great added to a summer frittata, which can be eaten hot or cold. Peas make wonderful soups either combined with ham or mint, and are an excellent addition to a summery seafood risotto. Sugar snaps are wonderful added to any green salad and mange tout is a great addition to stir-fries.

WHAT ABOUT SPLIT PEAS?

Split peas are actually dried peas; they split naturally once the skins are dried and removed and are often yellow in colour. They sometimes get forgotten when up against green peas, but they are still wonderfully nutritious. Clearly, enjoying fresh foods is certainly best but split peas provide really high amounts of fibre, so they help to keep the bowels moving.  Additionally, their high fibre content makes them very effective at reducing cholesterol levels. Furthermore, as with all legumes, they’re low on the glycaemic index meaning they keep blood sugar levels in check; this is especially helpful for those trying to lose some pounds.

Something about split peas which is not widely appreciated is that they are high in the trace mineral molybdenum, which helps detoxify sulphites. Unfortunately sulphites are widely used as preservatives in a variety of foods, particularly salads and prepared meats. People allergic to sulphites may suffer from headaches and other unpleasant ailments. However, having sufficient molybdenum stores in the body, will hopefully negate any of these problems.

WAYS WITH SPLIT PEAS

Split peas are great when used to make thick soups, stews, curries or broths containing strong flavoured foods such as chorizo. Importantly, as with other legumes, they are a very good vegetarian source of protein so can be used as a main meal in a dahl dish, for example.

Dahl can be made using tinned tomatoes, turmeric, onions, vegetable stock and curry leaves. It’s wonderful eaten on its own or as a side with some grilled fish or chicken.

So add more peas to your diet this season and enjoy the health benefits of this versatile vegetable.

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Immunity-boosting nutrition tips this spring

Close up of woman with her arms stretched out in sunshine wearing sunglasses

With spring on the way we naturally want to get out and about and certainly don’t want to be dragged down by colds or infections that prevent us from enjoying life to the full. A change in season can often put the body under more stress, so what are the best ways to get your immune system in good shape this spring time?

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares FIVE of her top immune-boosting foods!

SMALLER--4 Suzie Blog pic

PURPLE SPROUTING BROCCOLI

Purple sprouting broccoli has been cultivated since the 18th century but has only risen to prominence in the UK in the last 30 years or so. All green leafy vegetables provide great health benefits but the purple colour means that it also contains higher levels of polyphenols – plant compounds, rich in antioxidants which provide wonderful support for the immune system. Additionally, purple sprouting broccoli contains vitamins A and C, together with a variety of carotenoids – all key for immunity.

Not sure what to do with it? It is great stir-fried with pine nuts, sesame oil and seeds, sweet chilli sauce or just plain steamed as an accompaniment to meat or fish. Grab it now whilst it’s in season – this means it is packed with the highest nutrient content – perfect for giving your immune system a boost.

CRAB

You might not necessarily associate crab with immunity but it’s high in the mineral selenium which is needed to produce our key antioxidant enzyme in the body called glutathione peroxidase. This in turn, helps protect us from infections and disease.

A close up of a bowl of crab salad

The easiest way to enjoy crab is in a salad using the prepared crab meat from the fish counter or from your fishmonger. If you mix the crab meat with a dash of tabasco sauce, lime juice, capers, some black pepper and chopped coriander leaves, you can pair it with some mixed leaves for a delicious spring time salad.

SPINACH

A wonderfully versatile vegetable that will help to keep you bug-free through spring! It can be cooked in a variety of ways, added to dishes or it may be used in salads, raw. In fact it mixes really well with bacon in a salad.

Spinach is in season right now so will be a lovely dark green colour in the shops or markets. It’s great for the immune system because it contains high levels of vitamins A and C. Spinach is probably best known for its high iron content (Popeye knew best!) which helps to give energy levels a great boost; very helpful if you’re wanting some spring time fun.

Close up of Spinach salad with peas, asparagus and radish

There’s so many ways to use spinach; added to soups, casseroles or pasta, lightly steamed and served with a knob of butter, stir-fried with garlic and butter, sautéed with a little olive oil and parmesan, or in a salad with some grilled haloumi and fresh mint.  Why not create a delicious greens salad with spinach, peas and asparagus. Enjoy!

ACAI BERRIES

All berries are great for the immune system but acai are actually some of the best. This is because acai berries have one of the highest antioxidant ratings of any food and they’re rich in fibre too. This means they’re great for the immune system, plus the skin and heart.

Acai berries in a bowl and a spoon of acai berry powder

One of the most delicious recipes for acai berries is an acai berry bowl. You can either use them as a freeze-dried powder or try frozen berries whizzed up with banana, avocado, other berry fruits, and coconut water with a crunchy topping of nuts and seeds to boost your omega-3s.

TEA

It doesn’t matter what colour – black, green or white – all types are rich in immune-boosting polyphenols. However, green tea actually has the highest amount of antioxidants. This is because methods of tea production vary from tea type. For example, green tea leaves are picked and then left out to dry (generally in the sunlight) before being put into hot roasting tins. After being rolled, they are then further heat treated which produces green, slightly withered tea leaves. Green tea is higher in antioxidants because the leaves are not left in the atmosphere to oxidise before they’re harvested.

A glass tea cup of green tea

Green tea is also great for the immune system as it helps to feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Strange as it may seem, balanced gut bacteria is absolutely essential for good immunity. However, it’s best to drink any type of tea in-between meals as the tannin content tends to deplete certain trace minerals in our food.

So keep well this spring and enjoy spending more time outdoors as the warm weather arrives.

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Spring nutrition for an energy boost this season

With the onset of spring and the lighter evenings, we naturally feel more energised and want totally embrace life. However, the real key to feeling revitalised is eating the right foods. It is always best to eat foods that are in season to gain maximum nutritional benefits, and springtime presents foods which are great for energy.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her five best meals to put a zing in your step!

SMALLER--4 Suzie Blog pic

GET BREAKFAST UNDERWAY

You’ll definitely struggle with energy throughout the day if you don’t start it off right. This means always eating breakfast. Many people have little appetite in the morning, in which case eating some natural yoghurt and blueberries might be the best option for you.

However, as spinach is a great spring food and is packed with energising iron, an often-depleted trace mineral in the diet, it makes a great breakfast choice. How about a mushroom and spinach omelette?

Spinach omelette in pan on breakfast table

Eggs are one of the best sources of protein you can find, so blood sugar levels will stay balanced throughout the day, and mushrooms contain B vitamins which are real energy-boosters. This breakfast is really going to keep you fully charged throughout the day.

LUNCH-TIME ENERGISERS

Energy levels often slump mid-afternoon, particularly if work is office-based, hence the need for a protein-based lunch. Salmon is at its best right now and is packed with the essential omega-3 fats, needed to keep the metabolism fired up. Why not throw together a delicious salmon and new potato salad using wonderfully tasty Jersey royals? Plus, add some lightly boiled or steamed asparagus to your salad leaves; asparagus is in season and contains lots of energising folate. Folate or folic acid, known as vitamin B9, is also essential for red blood cell production.

Salmon fillet and asparagus on a white plate

Eating sandwiches for lunch can become a bit dull and it may encourage that afternoon dip in energy. Chicken is in season now (as we’ll see below), and it’s great for lunch in a sustaining quinoa, chicken and avocado salad. The whole recipe is loaded with the energising B-vitamins and avocado provides some good fats which are great for the skin and heart.

Tub of quinoa salad on a desk with keyboard and mouse in background

Boil the quinoa with some chicken stock and when cool, mix with some cooked chicken, mashed avocado, baby spinach (another spring favourite!), some cherry tomatoes, lemon juice, crushed garlic and a little olive oil. You’ll fly through the rest of the day and because it’s gluten-free you won’t feel bloated later on.

DELICIOUS DINNERS

No spring recipe suggestions would be complete without including lamb. The UK is well-known for its deliciously sweet and tender spring lamb. Plus it’s certainly going to contribute to those energy levels; it’s rich in vitamins B3, B6 and B12 and lamb is a great source of zinc which helps support the immune system.

Roast leg of lamb with trimmings

Greek-style spring lamb is wonderful and is great for entertaining over the Easter period. And a leg of lamb is so easy to cook. Simply mix up some crushed garlic, oregano, olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper and rub all over the lamb. In order for the full flavour to penetrate, stab the raw meat whilst pouring over the herb mixture. Once the lamb is cooked to your liking, use the juices in the pan to mix with a can of tomatoes and some green or black olives for a delicious accompaniment.

Roast chicken leg with potatoes and vegetables

Chicken is also a great spring food. Indeed, the famous ‘spring chicken’ saying suggests that spring chickens are much softer than older ones who have had to endure the winter! Chicken is often a family staple and a great source of protein with a complete amino acid profile. Plus it’s packed with B vitamins, especially vitamin B5 which is needed for the body’s normal stress response. You can either use a whole chicken or chicken thighs which are generally much tastier than breast for an easy chicken casserole. Place in a pot with sliced carrots, new potatoes (Jersey royals of course), some chicken stock, mixed herbs and what else but spring onions!

So enjoy everything that the new season has to offer and here’s to an energetic spring!

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Kick off the year the right way with these top healthy diet tips

The New Year provides the perfect backdrop to make changes to your life and, most importantly, your diet. The good news is that even making small changes nutritionally can have a really big impact on your overall health.

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, gives us her top tips on how to revamp your diet this year!

SMALLER--4 Suzie Blog pic

DRINK MORE WATER

Sometimes, the simplest changes can have the most impact. If you’re dehydrated (and a lot of us are), you’ll feel sluggish, your brain will be fuzzy, energy levels will be lowered and your skin may look tired and less luminous.

The body is around 75% water, therefore it makes sense to be well hydrated.  Optimal water intake is around 1 ½ – 2 litres daily which you can sip throughout the day; always keep a water bottle close at hand.

If you’re exercising, then you’ll need more.  The body is not ‘pure’ water which is why isotonic drinks, which are recommended during and after exercise, provide additional electrolytes and solutes which help re-hydrate the body more effectively.

We can often confuse hunger for thirst, so making sure you’re getting enough water is a daily essential and may prevent you from reaching for snacks you might not really need.

KEEP BLOOD SUGAR BALANCED

One of the most unpleasant aspects of adjusting your diet and eating less is the feeling of hunger and food cravings. This is because our blood sugar levels are imbalanced so it is important to sustain energy levels by eating the right foods even when you’re trying to eat less.

The trick here is to always eat protein at every meal.  For example, eggs for breakfast, some chicken or turkey with your lunch and some fish, for example, in the evenings.  There is a misconception that it is carbohydrates that fill you up; the reverse is actually true.  Protein provides feelings of fullness and helps to keep your blood sugar levels balanced, your energy levels sustained and those hunger pangs in check. Protein all the way!

FOOD IS NOT THE ENEMY

When we’re trying to make changes to our diet, whether it be for health reasons, to lose weight or just to ‘change things up a bit’, many of us seem it as too big a challenge.  But by changing your mind set and looking at food as one of life’s pleasures, you can have a much more harmonious relationship with your nutritional plan.

So, if you want to improve your diet, always make sure that you resolve to replace the foods you know you shouldn’t be eating but really enjoy (high fat, low nutritional value foods such as biscuits, cakes, sweets) with foods you enjoy.

Many people choose a new diet plan but really don’t like the foods they are being asked to eat and this is just not sustainable long term.  I often advise people to try removing dairy from their diet for health reasons, but I will always suggest alternatives to dairy that people will enjoy to fill the gap.  For example, replacing cow’s milk: many people find soya milk unpalatable but they like coconut or almond milk. Therefore by choosing an alternative they like, they don’t feel deprived about not having traditional cow’s milk in their diet.

So, you may need to avoid the cakes in the office, but you might have a bar of delicious raw chocolate in your drawer at work and can eat a piece as a sweet treat. It is not about having a life of denial, but finding healthy alternatives, and most importantly, enjoying the food you’re eating.

KEEP HEALTHY SNACKS ON HAND

We know that eating protein at every meal is going to help you to feel fuller for longer.  However, there are going to be times when you’re away from a kitchen and direct access to healthy food may be limited.  This is where problems can start and you may grab something unhealthy because you’re hungry!  However, it’s all about planning and this is where healthy snacks come in.

If you plan your week in advance – may be even write a menu – you’ll be much more likely to stay on track.  More importantly, you can ensure you have healthy, portable snacks on hand.  For example, protein bars containing natural ingredients, where possible. Oat cakes, pots of seeds, almonds or Brazils, fruit such as blueberries … all these are easy to keep in your bag or in your desk drawer.  It’s best not to go without food for longer than three or four hours, therefore healthy snacking is an essential part of any balanced diet.

So get the New Year off to a flying start nutritionally and the rest will follow!  Good luck!

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Shout about sprouts! Everything you need to know about nutritious Brussels sprouts.

Plate with traditional Christmas dinner and a delicious turkey on the table in the background

Brussels sprouts are synonymous with Christmas and will always appear on any traditional Christmas menu. However, just like marmite, people love them or hate them even though they deliver wonderful nutritional benefits.

Clinical Nutritionist Suzie Sawyer stands up for sprouts and also suggests alternatives if you really can’t stomach these little green vegetables!

SMALLER--4 Suzie Blog pic

Did you know that Britons eat more Brussels Sprouts than any other country in Europe, even though they originated from Brussels? The area dedicated to sprout fields in the UK is equivalent to around 3,240 football pitches so there must be more lovers than haters? So what’s so good about sprouts?

PACKED FULL OF NUTRITION

Brussels sprouts are bursting with nutrients and actually contain more vitamin C per 100 grams than oranges.  Plus they’re a great source of folate – a B vitamin which helps energy production and red blood cell production – and vitamin A for a strong immune system. Even better, they’re full of fibre which keeps the bowels in smooth working order.  The only down side is that they can produce unpleasant wind, but this can be reduced by cooking them as quickly as possible in fast-boiling water in an uncovered saucepan.

One often-forgotten nutritional fact about sprouts is that they are actually rich in protein; they provide around 4 grams of protein per cup, which is high for a vegetable.

THEY CAN HELP THE BODY DETOX

It may not be the time of year we traditionally think about detoxing, but why not give a helping hand to the body and help it to cope better with any excesses of the festive season?

Brussels sprouts are high in glucosinolates which help activate other detoxing compounds, plus they are high in sulphur, which is key in activating the liver’s natural detoxification systems.

WHY THE BITTER TASTE AND SMELL?

It has been proven that some people have a gene that can make certain foods, most specifically sprouts, taste bitter, which may explain why some people dislike them.  However, this bitter taste can be overcome by adding other flavours. It is often over-cooking sprouts that produces the rather unpleasant smell that can pervade the whole house so why not try steaming them instead?

DELICIOUS SPROUT DISHES

There are so many positives to eating Brussels sprouts regularly in the diet, so how can you make them even more appealing?  Sprouts work really well with bacon, onions and raisins which will compliment your Christmas meal perfectly.  They can also be sautéed with garlic and shallots.

Plus, if you want to be sure of avoiding sprout cooking smells, then why not roast them in the oven for about 15 minutes with chorizo, garlic, paprika and a little olive oil.  If you wanted to make them into more of a main meal, then why not add some small sausages?

STILL NOT CONVINCED?

If Brussels sprouts really don’t ‘float your boat’ then there’s plenty of healthy alternatives.  They come from a family of vegetables called the brassicas which are very well-known for their health benefits.  They’re also better known as cruciferous vegetables and are all super-foods in their own right.

Think kale, cauliflower, collard greens, cabbage, broccoli and turnips.  You can put broccoli in stir fries, kale into pasta dishes and cauliflower can be mashed or made into the all-round favourite cauliflower cheese. Try sautéing some greens with garlic and add turnips to a slow-cooked stew.

Whatever you decide, always try to select sprouts that are fresh and bright green with tightly-packed leaves and no patches of yellow.  Make this Christmas the year to start loving sprouts!

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Beat the winter blues with these top tips for combating low mood this season

Young woman wearing hat and scarf smiling with autumn background

Turning back the clocks is often a pivotal moment in people’s thinking.  Short, dark days can often negatively affect mood, energy and appetite.  However, with greater understanding of how we can effectively ‘by-pass’ the winter, we can enjoy the season rather than wishing the next six months away!

Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, gives us her five top tips on how we can boost our mood and keep on smiling through the winter.

SMALLER--4 Suzie Blog pic

It’s estimated that as many as one in 15 people suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) or winter depression.  The onset of SAD is often governed by our hormones and the disturbance of natural body rhythms.  The body naturally likes to wake up when it’s light, which is rarely possible for most people during the winter months.

Here are some of my top tips for minimising the winter blues.

EAT YOURSELF HAPPY

Certain hormones have a significant impact on seasonal changes in mood, energy and appetite; a lack of serotonin is often responsible for mood disorders in general.   People (especially those affected by SAD) frequently crave carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread, pasta, cereal, cakes and biscuits.  There’s nothing wrong with eating starchy carbohydrates as long as you stick to unrefined whole grain carbs such as brown rice, wholemeal bread and oats and avoid the sugary-laden snacks.

You can also increase serotonin levels by eating more foods containing the amino acid, tryptophan.  Great foods to eat include chicken, turkey, milk, yoghurt, bananas, figs, tuna and oats.

Levels of another brain neurotransmitter – dopamine – are also reduced during the darker months.  Foods that help to raise dopamine levels include lean meat, dairy products, fish and eggs.

BALANCING BLOOD SUGAR

During the winter months symptoms of low mood, lack of energy and increased appetite are common.  One of the ways to combat these is to balance blood sugar levels so that energy is sustained throughout the day.  This, in turn, will help to balance mood and stop food cravings.

The most important point to remember is to eat three meals a day that each contain some form of protein.  If you need a couple of snacks in between, that’s fine, but try to include some protein as well.  For example, sliced apple with nuts, oatcakes with chicken, plain yoghurt with fruit etc.   Additionally, it’s best to avoid or dramatically reduce coffee, alcohol, sugar and cigarettes which play havoc with blood sugar levels.

LIGHT THERAPY

The control centres in our brain determine our moods and daily rhythms, which in part are governed by the amount of light that enters our eyes.  When the light hits the retina of the eye it effects the release of the hormone melatonin.  Melatonin is released during darkness, making us sleepy.  This is one of the reasons we feel tired during the winter because it’s dark much of the time!

Light or phototherapy is a treatment for SAD involving daily exposure to high-intensity, broad-spectrum artificial light from a light box, which suppresses the release of melatonin.  It appears to work really well although sufferers usually need to make the other changes to diet and lifestyle for maximum benefit.

TRY THE HERB ST JOHN’S WORT

This popular and well-known herb is found in many part of the world, including Europe, Asia and the United States.  It produces distinctive yellow flowers and many parts of the plant are used to create a very effective natural solution to help symptoms of low mood.

St John’s wort appears to help raise serotonin levels which in turn improve mood and motivation.  It generally takes around three weeks to really see results but it’s certainly worth persevering.

For more information and to try St John’s Wort visit the Nature’s Way website.

GET ACTIVE!

We all know that the body naturally loves to be active. However, we’re also now realising the wonderful benefits of exercise on mental health.  Indeed, health practitioners involved in treating depression have seen how effective it can be.

When we exercise or ‘get active’ the brain releases endorphins which are powerful chemicals in the brain that make us feel good.  Exercise also relieves feelings of stress and anxiety and actually helps raise energy levels.

If the gym is not for you, don’t despair.  Just getting more active, for example taking a brisk 30- minute walk in the fresh air, can really invigorate and raise your mood.  So, instead of reaching for the remote control and hiding under the duvet when it’s damp and dull outside, get out there!

  1. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/s/seasonal-affective-disorder-sad

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