The days are getting shorter, darker and colder, which causes a decline in energy: serotonin, the hormone to make us feel awake, is produced as a result of sunlight, as reported in Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience. In part explaining why depression is more likely in winter, recognising we are more likely to feel fatigued over the coming months presents us with one option: prepare accordingly. Changing location - aka what I do most winters - is one avenue, however, modifying your diet is another. As your sleep specialist, remember that I’m not just enhancing your sleep - my aim is to optimise energy too. So if you’d like to know what you should be eating to do exactly that, this article is for you.
What you should eat:
Leafy greens. Rich in B vitamins, iron and calcium, greens like kale, spinach and bok choy are your best friends when it comes to energy. Iron is required for the movement of oxygen around the body: which is necessary for cellular function. Further, an academic study in Frontiers of Psychology noted that raw fruit and veggies, rather than processed, is associated with improved mental health too.
Sweet potato: Abundant in low GI carbohydrates and fibre, sweet potato recharges you for hours - because it releases energy into the blood stream slowly, it minimises post meal sugar highs - and subsequent crashes.
Algae, like seaweed: Capturing the energy of the sun (which is why they turn green!), algae’s are nutrient powerhouses. One of the richest sources of plant based protein (even more than meat), a report in Journal of Applied Phycology highlights they contain a similar nutrient profile to that of eggs and fatty fish - all the essential amino acids and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Bananas: Similar to sweet potato, bananas feature low GI carbs to keep you fuelled for longer. However, bananas can be eaten easily on the go - a little more difficult for the sweet potato. In addition, bananas are also rich in potassium, which allows your muscles to contract. Definiency correlates with fatigue, as noted in Advanced in Nutrition.
Note - that if you are plant based, you need to supplement correctly: the most important being B12. Found primarily in animal products, your production of red blood cells, which minimises fatigue, relies upon it. Rather than go into the chemist and hope for the best, I’d prefer to guide you to what I know is the best - MedLab NanoCelle (as mecobalamin) B12. Why? It’s activated firstly; which optimises bioavailability. Second, its ingested via the cheek (yes!), which also increases absorption - rather thn in the gut it is more challenging to extract than in the oral cavity. Third, it smells like peppermint, which I love.
Written by Olivia Arezzolo