Nutrition Notes from Nancy Howse, Bowen Road
Oh, here comes the winter blues! It makes me S.A.D, which makes me M.A.D.
The short days get me in the winter. How do you combat not wanting to get out of a warm cozy bed on a dark winter morning? While not all of us have seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D), many of us do struggle at some point with the doldrums of winter. When the sun goes down so early, before the day is done, it is tough to catch some rays. The sun doesn’t just help us to create vitamin D, it also helps us balance melatonin! Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland and regulates our sleep/wake cycle.
Melatonin is generally well known for its impact on jet lag, night shift workers, flight attendants, and insomnia. Vitamin D receptors appear in a variety of brain tissue! Activated vitamin D receptors increase nerve growth in the brain. So, for all around mental health and brain health, inexpensive vitamin D as a supplement can help as well with S.A.D. Co-factors with vitamin D supplementation could include vitamin K and magnesium.
Vitamin D is also a fat soluble, so I like to recommend fish oil as an excellent complement. Fish oil will also help with brain health, heart health, and even general inflammation.
Now more about melatonin! Did you know melatonin can counteract cortisol? Cortisol is a stress hormone which can disturb sleep if melatonin levels are not adequate at night. Another fascinating tidbit is that melatonin is found in bile and helps convert cholesterol to bile and ease passing of gallstones? Whoa Nelly!
Most people know melatonin for chronic sleep issues which may mean higher doses for some people over longer periods of time.
I recommend doing more reading on melatonin at pubmed.gov online.
Of course, along with the supplement info above, lifestyle habits also play a large part. Setting a bedtime routine, not eating before bed, turning off screens at least an hour before bed, meditation, exercise, reading, any calming activity really will help. I always like to practice deep breathing as I go to sleep. It’s amazing what I get from this practice, before I know it, I’m out like a light. Check out free meditations online, find the one that you resonate with the most.
New and notable in the supplement department at Country Grocer, you’ll find new, from CanPrev a product called Adrenal Chill. It is a combination of ashwagahnda and I-theanine. KSM-66 ashwaganda research studies have shown benefit with stress/anxiety, perimenopause, cognitive function, muscle strength and recovery and even cardiovascular endurance.
On the lighter side, with the holiday season coming on full swing, how about a nice apple cider recipe? My favourite is to heat (not boil) apple cider or even organic apple juice (two litres), include cinnamon or cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg to taste, a sliced orange and voila!
Let’s make the most of the season, get some good zzzz’s and have some winter fun! Until the New Year, cheers everyone!
Nancy Howse is our nutrition manager at Country Grocer Bowen Road.