Avoid The ‘Winter Blues’ With These 8 Bone-Healthy, Mood-Lifting Foods

Winter’s coming in the Northern Hemisphere, and that means less hours of daylight. Many people dread this time of year because of SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder.

As usual, the Medical Establishment is quick to prescribe bone-damaging drugs to “treat” this condition; but today, you’ll learn that you don’t have to turn to toxic drugs to lift your mood this winter. I also bring you research that shows SAD is (not surprisingly) over-diagnosed.

Today we’re going to explore eight delicious foods that help keep depression and sadness at bay. And since they’re all Foundation Foods, they’re excellent for your bones as well!

But first, let’s take a closer look at SAD, and what scientists have discovered about its prevalence.

SAD Is Not Nearly As Common As You’ve Been Led To Believe

When researchers at Oregon State University analyzed comprehensive data from 762 participants in two different states, they found that the impact of winter weather on mood has been greatly overestimated.

Participants completed self-report measures of their symptoms from 10 to 19 times, and this data were compared to the local weather conditions. Interestingly, they concluded that:

“Neither time of the year or recent seasonally linked meteorological conditions were powerful influences on depressive symptoms experienced by community populations in relevant geographic regions. Prior studies may have overestimated the prevalence and significance of seasonal variation in depressive symptoms for the general population.1 (emphasis added)

Instead, lead researcher David Kerr points out that feeling a bit more cooped up and “down” during the winter is not the same as clinical depression.1 Yet, as mentioned earlier, doctors treat this response to winter weather with anti-depressant drugs, just as they would long-term clinical depression.

Kerr further notes that those who have symptoms of SAD should certainly seek help, but adds that,

“…there are many effective treatments for depression, whether or not it is seasonal.”

I agree, and today we’re going to look at “many effective treatments” for SAD that are wonderfully simple, and, more importantly, help you avoid bone-damaging anti-depressants.

How Foods Help Lift Depression

It comes down to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is produced in the brain and in the gut. Serotonin is the body’s natural anti-depressant, and its levels can be increased by ingesting key foods and nutrients that contain its precursor and various co-factors.

Serotonin has only one precursor that’s present in the diet: an amino acid called L-tryptophan. In addition, certain foods facilitate the brain’s manufacture of serotonin by providing vital co-factors obtained through supplementation of magnesium, Vitamin C, folic acid, Vitamin B6, and zinc.

The following seven foods are rich in the nutrients required to boost serotonin levels, starting with one of my favorites.

1. Avocados

Botanically a fruit, avocados are rich in healthful Omega-3 fats which not only help lift mood; they also increase calcium absorption. Avocados also contain Vitamins C, D, and K, and the trace minerals folate, copper, and boron.

Of course, they are delicious in the classic dish guacamole; but they are also excellent diced and tossed in salads, whizzed into smoothies, or creamed as a basis for dip or sandwich spread. Avocados can also be enjoyed simply sliced with a little lemon or lime juice and sea salt.

2. Broccoli

This cruciferous vegetable is an affordable, versatile “go-to” vegetable for everyone – from moms with young children to older adults. Broccoli offers multiple health benefits, including a cleansing and energizing effect on the body. Enjoyable cooked or raw, broccoli boasts calcium, boron, Vitamins C and K, and antioxidant flavonoids.

Why not try an avocado-based dip for raw broccoli for a snack this winter?

3. Walnuts

These delicious nuts are widely available in their raw, unshelled form. Even though they are acidifying, walnuts contain many excellent bone-building nutrients, including a bone-healthy Omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

Walnuts’ ALA content fights depression in various ways. ALAs preserve the structural integrity of the brain and facilitate signal transduction within the brain. ALAs also decrease inflammation, which is linked to depression. Additionally, ALAs reduce bone-damaging cortisol.

Keep walnuts on hand this fall and add them to plain yogurt, oatmeal (which also helps lift mood, as you’ll see below), and even pesto. There are various types of walnuts – if you live in certain wooded areas of the world, they may be plentiful in your backyard! All types offer similar health benefits.

4. Quinoa

Quinoa is an alkalizing, gluten-free, protein-rich seed that can be used instead of rice. I also like to eat it in combination with oatmeal to make a more alkalizing breakfast dish.

Quinoa has magnesium and B-complex vitamins, and it’s also a great source of amino acids which, as I mentioned above, are precursors to serotonin. Thanks to its protein content and natural, complex carbohydrates, quinoa stabilizes blood sugar, which is also a key component of a happy mood.

5. Flax

Listed among the Foundation Foods for calcium in the Save Our Bones Program, alkalizing flax seeds are another excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids and ALAs. Like quinoa, flax helps stabilize blood sugar.

Try flax seeds finely ground and sprinkled over casseroles, pancakes, or hot cereal. Ground flax also makes a healthful addition to bread and baked goods. Whole flax seeds tend to pass through the human gut undigested, so grinding the seeds first ensures you’ll absorb all the nutrients these healthful seeds have to offer.

6. Sweet Potatoes

The beautiful, orange sweet potato is alkalizing and full of the bone-healthy antioxidant beta-carotene. The flesh contains the important serotonin precursor L-tryptophan. They are high in B6, which is a natural anti-depressant – in fact, many people who suffer from SAD or clinical depression have low levels of B vitamins.

Sweet potatoes also contain magnesium and potassium, crucial minerals for muscle relaxation and the reduction of cortisol and high blood pressure.

7. Oats

Oats are acidifying, but listed as a Foundation Food for manganese, silicon, and B-complex vitamins. Most oats are naturally gluten-free, but check anyway – some oats do have gluten, which has been linked to neurological conditions like depression.

Avoid sugary “instant” oatmeal so instead, cook up a pot of plain oatmeal with a pinch of alkalizing stevia. Why not top it with chopped walnuts for a mood-lifting breakfast?

8. Greens

Greens like spinach and kale are in season during cold weather, making them a perfect choice for combating winter blues. Nearly all greens are high in magnesium, Vitamin C, and B-complex vitamins. Collards, kale, and mustard greens are good sources of bone-building calcium.

Greens come in a vast variety – in addition to spinach and kale, collards, romaine lettuce, chard, dandelion greens, beet greens, and dark green lettuces all come under the heading of greens. Raw or cooked, leafy green vegetables are excellent mood lifters and bone builders.

Don’t let concerns about oxalates or oxalic acid present in some leafy greens, like spinach, deter you. Some laboratory studies have shown that oxalates may interfere with calcium absorption, but the reduction is relatively small, and oxalates don’t actually leech calcium from the bones. Spinach contains many valuable nutrients, as you can see; so once again, moderation is key!

Isn’t it good to know that you can manage your seasonal blues with delicious meals and dishes? These truly are “comfort foods”!

If These Foods Are So Effective, Why Hasn’t My Doctor Told Me About Them?

Most doctors are not trained in nutrition. Their training is in assessing symptoms, making a diagnosis, and prescribing a drug to treat the diagnosed condition. Natural, nutritional solutions to health problems are simply not their “realm.”

This means your doctor probably hasn’t told you about another natural, scientifically-backed way to relieve depression either: regular exercise.

Exercise Relieves Even Major Depression, Study Says

It’s long been known that regular exercise relieves depression and lifts your mood. But an insightful study shows that exercise is as effective at relieving even Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) in older adults.

After 16 weeks, exercise was so effective that the study authors concluded the following:

“An exercise training program may be considered an alternative to antidepressants for treatment of depression in older persons.equally effective in reducing depression among patients with MDD.” 2

It’s Not Hard To Exercise For Your Bones (And Mood) In The Winter!

It can be challenging to get moving when it’s cold and dark, and inclement weather sets in. The good news is, you can easily exercise indoors with the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System.

Actually, Densercise™ can be done anywhere; but when it’s cold outside, you can comfortably Densercise™ in your own living room . So don’t let the weather keep you from all the benefits of exercise, including depression relief.

Till next time,

References:

1 Kerr, David, et al. “Two Longterm Studies of Seasonal Variation in Depressive Symptoms among Community Participants.” Journal of Affective Disorders. 2013. Vol 151, no 3. Web. http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/xmlui/handle/1957/41955

2 Blumenthal, J.A., et al. “Effects of exercise training on older patients with major depression.” Archives of Internal Medicine. October 25, 1999. 159(19):2349-56. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10547175

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21 comments. Leave Yours Now →
  1. Lacy October 10, 2015, 2:26 pm

    Hello Everyone, I am brand new to this group and have high hopes that in a year I will see an improvement in my bone density. The doctors wanted to put me on Prolia but after reading the possible side effects and finding “Save Our Bones Program” online I decided to forego all meds and try for a natural way to strengthen my bones and improve my health.

    Vivian I too was wondering if the recipe book is avail in hard copy or is it only sold as a download?

    I really appreciate those who have shared recipes that are based on the pH. Thanks so much. Can anyone recommend a “starter list” for shopping for foods, spices etc. I am overwhelmed by all the options.

    So happy to be part of this community, thanks to all of you. Lacy

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA October 10, 2015, 3:11 pm

      Welcome, Lacy! Don’t worry – it’s not as overwhelming as it seems at first. The Program is designed to be clear and easy to follow, including food lists as you mentioned. And of course, feel free to use the Search feature to look up all the free information here about foods (and many other topics!).

      As far as Bone Appetit goes, it is available only as a digital item at this time, as we have no more print copies available.

  2. Evie September 25, 2015, 9:55 am

    Do you have Quorn in the US ? In the UK we use it quite a lot as substitute for meat for vegetarians. Is it acid or alkaline? As it generally comes commercially made from a fungus, I presumed it would be acid. Anyone help here? Thanks

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA September 25, 2015, 10:24 am

      Hi Evie,
      We do have Quorn products here in the U.S., and most sources cite it as neutral to mildly acidifying.

  3. Audrey September 23, 2015, 10:36 pm

    Here is how I use Quinoa,
    First I cook up a big batch of Qiinoa,let it coo then. place in refridgerator
    for over night aiso mixed up a batch of chia seed {3 tablespoon to one cup of
    water] put in a jar and stir real good then place in rrefriderator over night.
    it will gell also i grind up some flax seed and put it in the refridgerator.
    next day i put some Quinoa in a bowl add some flax seed ,some chia seed and
    blueberries and maple syrup [ if you need it sweeter] top it off with some alnond milk
    Eat it cold or heat it up.This will last for several meals.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA September 24, 2015, 10:48 am

      Thanks for sharing that yummy-sounding recipe idea, Audrey!

  4. Rose September 23, 2015, 9:58 pm

    What is your source for the stevia you use in your Bone Appetit recipes? The couple packages I have checked seem to have several ingredients, not just stevia. I want to purchase the right brand of stevia so that I can successfully prepare the recipes in Bone Appetit. Thank you for your help!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA September 24, 2015, 10:47 am

      Hi Rose,
      I am not recommending a particular brand at this time, but I can tell you that pure stevia extract (powder) works fine in the recipes.

  5. Mine September 23, 2015, 2:36 pm

    I have another suggestion for how to eat quinoa. It is my favorite way to eat it and it is delicious. I cook the quinoa and let it cool. Then I dice tomatoes, different colored bell peppers, avacado, spinach and/or kale, radishes, etc. You can add different ingredients to your taste. Then I make a dressing with lemon juice, virgin olive oil, a little garlic, ground black pepper, and himalayan salt. Pour the dressing into the quinoa and diced veggies and mix well. It’s delicious as a side dish or salad and good for a couple of days.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA September 24, 2015, 10:44 am

      That sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing that recipe idea.

  6. Sally September 22, 2015, 12:53 pm

    Is it possible to get the bone Building Recipe Books in book form rather than digital download?

  7. Susan September 22, 2015, 9:10 am

    Vivan, What is your opinion on including fermented foods in our meals? I am especially interested in knowing about high-quality, organic non-GMO miso.
    Thank you!

  8. Kimberly September 22, 2015, 8:54 am

    All these foods are yummy. Since I do not like quinao alone, mixing it in oats is a must-try idea. Once I had to move from a house with lots of yard, fruit trees and passer-byers who stopped to chat – to a condo isolated and surrounded by concrete. Since I work from home, it was ever-present. Within 2 months I noticed symptoms of depression. Immediately I replaced drab colors with bright and happy ones, played happy music, bought planters to place outside, and read Psalm chapters wich praise the greatness of God. |t worked like a charm.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA September 22, 2015, 10:30 am

      Wonderful ideas, Kimberly! Thank you for sharing how you proactively overcame your depression.

  9. Marlene Villar September 22, 2015, 8:54 am

    Good morning Vivian,
    An EXCELLENT reminder.
    Thank you very much. Have a wonderful day.
    Marlene

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA September 22, 2015, 10:29 am

      You are welcome, Marlene. Hopefully, this reminder will help the community prepare.

  10. Deedee September 22, 2015, 8:08 am

    Hi Vivian,

    Always look forward to read all your great suggestions and valuable information you pass on. You mention you mix quinoa with your oatmeal. Is this a half and half mixture? Thx

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA September 22, 2015, 10:29 am

      Hi Deedee,
      I actually use twice the quinoa as oats, with the quinoa being cooked first. So 1 cup of cooked quinoa per 1/2 cup uncooked oats. 🙂

  11. Muriel September 22, 2015, 7:21 am

    Thank you for reinforcing this information Vivian, it is so easy to read about this sort of thing and then forget about it. I love the encouragement you constantly give to all of us. Exercise is so important for lots of things and it is easy to become lazy about it.

    I am wondering if the supplement L-Tryptophan is as effective, or more effective than eating the foods containing it. My son has just been prescribed anti-depressants again (Sertraline, which affects serotonin). I am not happy about him being on these long term due to what I have read about them eventually having a negative effect on the brain.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA September 22, 2015, 10:26 am

      I understand your concerns, Muriel. Regarding supplementation, it’s my opinion that obtaining as many supplements as possible from foods is the best option. Foods contain many other nutrients and components that work synergistically with each other; no supplement works in isolation.

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