superfoods

Foods for Fighting Winter Blues

Besides a small handful of you who absolutely lovvvee and feel your best during the winter, the majority of you don't. When the sun goes down early and it's dark and cold, it's a little hard not to fill bummed out and just plain tired all the time. This is real! it's called SAD: 

The common symptoms of SAD include weight gain and increased intake of carbs (mainly processed, sugary ones), lethargy and fatigue, Irritability and decreased sociability, and lowered motivation. Sound familiar?

Luckily there are amazing foods out there that can boost your mood and energy....and I don’t mean drowning yourself in red wine and dark chocolate (well, in moderation of course). Mother Nature provides all of the essential ingredients our brain needs to function optimally and lift your spirits. Check out some of these super foods for fighting winter blues:

  • Omega-3 Fats: While you've probably heard that fish is a “brain food”, you might not realize that it’s a “mood food”, too. The essential fatty acids found in cold water fish – called omega-3s – are critical to brain health and mood. The higher the level of omega-3s in your blood, the more serotonin you make and the more responsive you become to the effects of this “feel good” brain chemical. Optimize your omega-3s by enjoying wild, sustainable seafood (like salmon and sardines) and by taking a high quality fish oil supplement.
  • Vitamin D: The “sunshine vitamin” does a lot to help brighten your mood. Due to lack of sunshine, up to 90 percent of us are Vitamin-D deficient at least part of the year. If you live in a climate where getting regular sunshine isn't possible, you might try supplementing your diet with vitamin-D rich cod-liver oil or take a supplement with 2,000-5,000 IUs of vitamin D3 daily. Fabulous foods rich in vitamin D include the same seafoods listed above, oysters, eggs, and mushrooms.
  • B Vitamins: Vitamins B6, B12 and folate also help to produce mood-boosting serotonin. But that’s not all this B-vitamin trio does. They also lower homocysteine – an amino acid that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and depression. In fact, a 2002 study found that women with high homocysteine levels had double the incidence of depression. Because B-vitamins in your body are depleted by stress (which is plentiful during the holidays!) be sure to include lots of foods rich in these nutrients in your diet, including leafy greens, avocados, asparagus, broccoli, bell peppers, chicken, salmon, sardines, shrimp, lamb, beef, and liver.
  • Selenium: Low levels of selenium are also associated with an increased risk of depression. To boost your selenium levels grab a handful of Brazil Nuts (just one provides 150 percent of the RDA of mood-enhancing selenium).
  • Antioxidants: Fighting free radicals means protecting cells – including brain cells, which are most susceptible to oxidative damage. Power up your diet with high antioxidant foods including organic blueberries, cranberries, blackberries and raspberries, organic dark cocoa; and spices including cinnamon, turmeric and cloves.
  • Animal Protein: If you’re a vegetarian, you may be lacking an important depression-fighting amino acid – tryptophan, an important precursor to serotonin. Protein-rich foods such as grass-fed beef, free range poultry, wild seafood and pastured eggs are the best sources of tryptophan.

Of course keeping up with your exercise routine is key for feeling good! With exercise and consuming the above nutrients, the likelihood of not staying in bed all day and gaining 20 lbs will diminish greatly...and if that’s not enough, plan a tropical escape for a few days!

Top 10 Super-Foods for Smoothies

It’s almost summer time, and there’s nothing like to a refreshing smoothie to start your day off right! This time of year there are so many delicious seasonal fruits and veggies to get creative with. You can also spike things up with a few antioxidant rich super-foods that will make your day, health, and life feel that much better!
Check out these 10 super-foods, which you can pick and choose from specific to your needs:

Lasting Energy and Stress Reduction-

    Acai - These Brazilian berries are loaded with antioxidants that not only improve your mental clarity, but give you an energy boost similar to what you would receive from caffeine.  This super fruit has also been shown to improve digestion by cleansing and detoxifying your body. Use the frozen pulp of acai in your smoothies to get the whole food without added ingredients.

    Maca - This super-food is considered the Peruvian “ginseng". It can improve energy and lower stress. It is rich in protein, B vitamins, and much more.  Maca has shown to alleviate cramps, body pain, hot flashes, anxiety, mood swings, and depression. You can buy Maca in powder, pill or liquid form for an easy addition to your smoothie!


Weight-loss-

    Chia Seeds- These little guys  are very high in fiber, which make them good for weight loss and weight maintenance. They are also high in omega fatty acids, protein, and many essential minerals. They can regulate your blood sugar levels, prevent blood clots, reduce high blood pressure, reduce inflammation, improve your digestion, and give you energy. Just add a couple Tbsp of these babies to your smoothie for some major health benefits!

    Coconut Oil- This incredible ingredient has so many benefits beyond weight loss that it is hard to pick a category. It’s even good for your hair and skin! Coconut oil is high in saturated fat; however, it has been proven to aid in weight loss and lower LDL (bad cholesterol) while raising HDL levels.  Coconut oil has also been shown to have an antibiotic effect. Just add a tablespoon to your smoothie for a creamy, coconutty taste.

    Avocados- This creamy fruit is rich in tryptphan, vitamin B6, and folate. They provide healthy fats which raise serotonin levels to keep you happy. They also help keep you satisfied and less likely to reach for sugary, processed carbs. It is a perfect ingredient for a “milkshake like” smoothie.

Immunity Boost-

    Kale-  This amazing super food is high in calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, and so much more. It is also filled with fiber which helps stabilize blood sugar levels, and many other micro-nutrients. Kale helps improve circulation, strengthen the immune system, and clear mucus and congestion especially in the lungs. This dark green veggie is almost an instant source of vitality. Try freezing a bag of kale and adding a large handful to your smoothie. If you’re not a huge leafy green veggie fan, you won’t even taste it!

    Gogi Berries- These candy like treats are packed with protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They can help protect you from heart disease, improve your eye health, fight against viruses, and balance hormones. They are also a wonderful enhancement to your fruity smoothie.

    Bee Pollen or Raw Honey- Both of these super-foods have strong antibacterial properties and contain antioxidants. They can also combat seasonal allergies, which you may be feeling right about now! When you have a cold, honey can ease coughing and the inflammation of a sore throat. Bee pollen is also a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. It has been used to treat asthma, indigestion, anemia, acne, arthritis, and fatigue. Both products are easy to add to smoothies, and provide a natural sweetness.

Mood Lift and Brain Function-

    Flax seeds- These super seeds contain Omega 3 fatty acids which are vital for brain functioning. If you’re needing  some extra mental clarity, these guys are for you! They have also proven to be good for your heart by fighting high cholesterol and heart disease. Flax seeds are filled with protein, fiber, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, iron, calcium and antioxidants. Just add 2 or 3 Tbsps to your smoothie.
    
    Cacoa Nibs- Raw cacao contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidant that can improve your health in a number of ways. Cacao has been shown to increase blood flow, lower blood pressure, and regulate blood sugar. It also improves brain function, vision, and mood. If you add raw cacao to a smoothie you can expect it to be bitter, but just add a little natural sweetener such as bee pollen or raw honey.