With the change of season, as the colder temperatures begin to appear and with the arrival of winter, many people begin to suffer from S.A.D. or “Seaonal Affective Disorder”. This phenomenon often results in a range of symptoms including increased tiredness and apathy, as well as a lack of motivation. These symptoms may last a few days or a few weeks, and can include:
- Loss of appetite
- Sadness without cause
- Loss of libido or sexual desire
- Difficulty concentrating
- Periodic memory loss
- Irritability and mood-swings
- General malaise
- High blood pressure
This lack of energy may affect people in different ways and with different intensities, but at whatever level the sufferer experiences this condition it is extremely unpleasant and often prevents them from following their normal daily routine.
Moreover, when the dark days and low temperatures arrive, it is a good time to take better care of ourselves and our diet. If we do not do this, these symptoms are more likely to manifest themselves.
All of these factors mean that a large section of the population will suffer from these mood changes with the change of season. These changes may be only temporary, but the symptoms are extremely unpleasant, and so people suffering in this way should try to find a solution as soon as possible.
One of the causes of these symptoms is related to serotonin levels in the brain (the happiness hormone). Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is produced due to the L-Tryptophan amino acid, which promotes healthy sleep patterns, a feeling of well-being, and the sensation of being relaxed. When our mood is low, it may be because our serotonin levels are also low.
Tryptophan is the amino acid responsible for the production of Serotonin. When this amino acid is in low concentrations in our bodies, we are incapable of producing Serotonin, which in turn creates symptoms such as low mood, tiredness and apathy. Therefore, if our diet includes the correct amount of tryptophan, we will have the correct production of serotonin, which in turn will lead to improved mood and more energy.
Here is a list of foodstuffs that are rich in tryptophan. These should be included in our diet during autumn and winter to ensure adequate levels are maintained through the difficult months:
- Dark meat of chicken or turkey.
- Dairy products
- Oily fish (sardines, tuna, salmon)
- Dark chocolate
- Seeds (sunflower or sesame)
- Nuts (walnuts)
Following a diet that is rich in these foods, remaining active and adequate rest are all necessary if we want to avoid the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder, and keep our batteries charged in order to keep up our daily routine. We can also complement these foods by taking a food supplement in order to be sure that our diet contains enough tryptophan.
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