Beating the winter blues

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What questions do you have about your health? Continuing our series from Sheaf Street Health Store, this time we look at a concern that seems to surface as the nights get longer. This article does not seek to diagnose or treat; if you are suffering from any health condition or are currently taking prescribed medication, please consult your GP before considering any complementary therapies.

Q. Once the clocks change I just feel like I lose my “get up and go”. Is there anything I can do?
A. There are lots of things we recommend for the darker months, starting with a healthy, varied diet that includes plenty of fruit and veg, healthy protein and some essential fats. Add regular exercise, hydration and a good sleep pattern and you’ll be doing yourself a lot of good.

The dark days and the angle of the sun to the earth means that in the UK the natural production of vitamin D from sunlight is impossible. It is common at this time of year for people to feel low in mood; research has shown that supplemental vitamin D can offer relief for this seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

However, several other nutrients and supplements are considered mood boosters, this includes a regular intake of oily fish or algae-derived EPA and DHA, saffron, turmeric, magnesium-rich nuts, seeds and leafy greens plus B vitamins.

In the UK we use a lot of artificial light in the autumn and winter, which can affect our daily rhythm. Once sleep becomes inadequate, mood can be affected. Aim for around 8 hours of sleep nightly. Save bed for ‘fun times’ and sleep, so that means no TVs, internet use and turning off laptops, phones and tablets. SAD lamps can be a great way to reset the circadian rhythm, they introduce dawn-mimicking light that gradually culminates with the alarm, tricking the body to think it has been woken by morning sunlight.

At the health store we stock a wide variety of whole foods and nutritional supplements, and we can recommend options for particular needs, such as vegans and vegetarians. Don’t let the cold and dark put you off staying active: we offer yoga and Pilates classes that you can do in the warm and dry all year round.

Visit Sheaf Street Health Store, 20 Sheaf Street, in Daventry, for a one-to-one chat, and more information.

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