LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — As temperatures dip and the sun goes down during these winter months, it's easy to feel more lethargic or even slightly depressed.
The 'winter blues' as they are called are actually quite common, doctors say it is affecting up to 20 percent of Americans. Often people crave those carb-rich comfort foods but our VERIFY team finds out, that can have the reverse effect.
And discovered there are foods that can actually boost your mood.
Our source is the UAMS head of nutrition, Tonya Johnson. We ask are there foods that can help fight seasonal depression?
"Yes, there are foods that can help people who suffer seasonal depression," said Johnson. Johnson works to improve eating options at the state's only teaching hospital and verifies there is a very real connection between what you eat and how you feel.
If you want to boost your mood during these dreary winter months Johnson said do these five things!
- Eat fatty fish like salmon or anything with Omega 3 fatty acids like walnuts or flax seeds.
"Omega 3 fatty acids work with the brain to stimulate good feelings and good responses because it makes your brain function more clearly," she said.
- Eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies, especially greens.
"Leafy green veg like spinach romaine broccoli, those fresh fruits and vegetables help to stimulate your body, it runs more efficiently, so your brain functions better so that provides you with a better mood boost," said Johnson.
- Be sure to include lots of vitamin D, either dairy products fortified with it or eggs and mushrooms.
And this is why. "We don't get out as much or when we do get out we have sweaters and clothes, so your body doesn't absorb as much vitamin D," said Johnson.
- Add whole grains, and complex carbohydrates instead of refined flour and sugar.
"So, when you eat something that has a high glycemic index, you'll get that high level, but you'll get that drop and that drop is what causes your mood to drop," said Johnson. And finally, Johnson verifies this - add a treat specifically dark chocolate. "Dark chocolate has more antioxidants in it which can help fight off those oxidizers and free radicals which can depress your mood even more."
So, we can verify certain foods actually contain nutrients to get your mood back on track. Doctors also recommend exercise and adequate sleep to get you through these dark, cold winter days.