Did you know that participating in daily physical activity can reduce the risk of seasonal depression? In fact, exercise outdoors has been shown to improve mood. Excellent news for amateur and experienced outdoors lovers!
The months of November, December and January are the times when people are most likely to be affected by seasonal depression. The latter is characterized, among other things, by a drop in energy and fluctuating mood caused by a lack of natural light. This condition is thought to affect 3 to 5% of Canadians. Physical activity and light therapy are two methods used to prevent winter blues, but diet also plays an important role. Here are some foods to include in your diet to combat this seasonal disorder.
Researchers have shown that people with lower than normal levels of vitamin D in their blood are at greater risk of suffering from seasonal depression. In contrast, the risk of developing it was lower in subjects who received daily vitamin D supplements (400 to 800 IU per day). Therefore, researchers recommend that vitamin D needs be met through food. Vitamin D requirements for people between the ages of 9 and 50 are 600 IU per day. For people aged 50 and over, who have more difficulty synthesizing vitamin D from the sun, it is recommended that you take a supplement of 1000 IU of vitamin D per day.
There are two ways to get vitamin D: through exposure to the sun or through food. So in addition to going outside to play, you will find vitamin D in dairy products, soy and almond drinks, margarine enriched with vitamin D, fatty fish (ex: salmon, tuna, mackerel) and eggs (the yolk contains vitamin D).
A few studies have shown that consuming omega-3 helps reduce symptoms of depression.
Omega-3s are fatty acids that are essential for the human body because they are not synthesized by it. Also, they should be taken through food. These fatty acids are found in foods of plant and animal origin. Fatty acids of animal origin contain more eicosapentinoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), both of which have important roles in brain development. Fatty acids from plant sources (linoleic fatty acid or ALA) are less well converted to EPA and DHA than those from animal sources.
Food sources of omega-3 are fatty fish (e.g. herring, mackerel, sardines, salmon, tuna, trout), canola, linseed or soybean oil, walnuts , flax seeds, soybeans and hemp.
St. John’s Wort
This plant, which is also known as St John’s grass, is now well known to the scientific community (World Health Organization) for its beneficial effects in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. Taking St. John’s Wort would reduce symptoms of depression (eg fatigue, lack of sleep and anxiety). The doses used are 300 mg three times a day. St. John’s Wort should be taken under the supervision of a healthcare professional, as this plant can cause some unwanted side effects (digestive disorder, headaches, nervousness, etc.) and interact with several medications, including antidepressants.
Finally, nothing better than eating a balanced diet and being active outside, taking advantage of the changing colors of fall to brighten up your daily life and fight seasonal depression!