Spring Out of the Dark and Into the Light

Michelle Hilliard • Certified Nutritionist • Integrative Nutrition Health Coach

The winter months are hard already, but when we add a pandemic on top of them, months of isolation, and then chaos in the world, well, we’re depressed. It’s hit our society hard, and it doesn’t discriminate among gender, age, or ethnicity. There is no shame in these feelings, but it is important to know that healing is available. 

Depression is a symptom of many possible underlying root causes: inflammation, hormonal imbalances, thyroid issues, low vitamin D levels, gut dysbiosis, candida, and the list can go on.

When you have these feelings of depression, it is usually a time to check in with your body and make some changes. 

Working with a doctor, therapist, or counselor to help find the root cause is so important. Check in with yourself and check in with your loved ones; talking about mental health shouldn’t be taboo or off limits. 

To get started, here is a list of some nutrition and lifestyle tips to try and put in place to help spring out of the dark and into the light. 

Foods to avoid in your diet:

  • Foods filled with inflammatory oils such as vegetable oil 
  • Drinks with aspartame can limit your neurotransmitters including serotonin 
  • Foods filled with high fructose corn syrup and sugar can cause inflammation in the body
  • Processed foods usually contain little to no fiber, may have added chemicals, and feed the bad bugs in the gut

    Foods to Encourage in your Diet: 

    • Foods with omega-3 nutrients: salmon, anchovies, flax seeds, chia seeds, avocados
    • Probiotic foods: fermented sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, yogurt 
    • Foods rich in vitamin B6: bananas, chickpeas, potatoes
    • Foods filled with folate: spinach, asparagus, broccoli, black-eyed peas
    • Foods with tryptophan: Brussels sprouts, pumpkin seeds, turkey breast

    Lifestyle changes to help fight depression:

    • Move your body daily to detox and release “feel good” hormones
    • Increase fiber by adding fruits and vegetables to help maintain good bacteria in the gut
    • Prioritize sleep and aim for 7 to 9 hours each night; this is the time the body repairs and resets
    • Minimize stress and find healthy outlets such as prayer, meditation, counseling, or a gratitude journal to help reduce effects of stress
    • Try a cold shower or cryotherapy to help minimize inflammation and support the immune system 
    • Try using a sauna to help detox the body
    • Do your best to get rid of outside toxins in the home such as toxic chemicals, candles and lotions that are full of endocrine-disrupting chemicals  
    • Step into the light, get outside every day and absorb that vitamin D; this is a vitamin many people are low in and don’t even know it
    • Make time to connect with the ones you love; a simple hug or meaningful conversation can be just what your heart and head need  
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