December 28, 2020
Boost Your Mood and Immunity for Winter
Let’s start with a simple mood boost. While you’re reading this, raise the corners of your mouth and place one or both hands on your heart or wrap your arms around you for a hug. Enhance that by tapping into gratitude or love for someone (you?) or something. Luckily, you can do this whenever and wherever you like.
Before we go any further, did that work for you? Why or why not? Remember, you are the expert on you. You know the things that work to boost your mood whether for a moment or more consistently. You’ve experienced the longer-lasting boosts and the ones that backslide. Does music work for you? Dancing? Laughing? A good cry? Talking? Hydrating? Dark chocolate? Yoga? Nature? The list could be almost endless. Experiment and play to find out what works best and keep adding to the palette of your work of art.
Along with pointing you back to you, also consider supplementing with B complex vitamins. These water-soluble vitamins have many functions and I definitely feel better when I take mine. They are “important for the normal functioning of the nervous system and are often helpful in bringing relaxation or energy to individuals who are stressed or fatigued.” (Elson Hass, Staying Healthy with Nutrition) They can be depleted by sugar, coffee and alcohol, so be sure to add more as necessary. Disclaimer: your pee will turn a bright shade of yellow as the excess is expelled, but yellow can be a mood-boosting colour.
As you’ve probably heard, exercise has been proven to positively affect our mood (and immunity), so be sure to fit some in. Could be as simple as a walk or cranking your favourite song and dancing. Daylight is helpful too, even if just looking out a window… gazing into the sky helps expand our perspective (not to mention trees).
Speaking of daylight, that leads us into immune-boosting. Vitamin D is considered the “sunshine vitamin,” so when not getting as much sun in the winter, be sure to supplement with Vitamin D. Canada’s Food Guide recommends that everyone over 50 should supplement with this important vitamin. “Vitamin D is needed to maintain normal functioning of the parathyroid gland and is an important immune system regulator.” (Smolin, Grosvenor, Gurfinkel, Nutrition: Science and Applications) We may be more familiar with Vitamin D’s connection to Calcium.
Calcium is considered one of the electrolytes which also includes Sodium, Magnesium, Potassium, Phosphate and Chloride. Electrolyte imbalance can show up as insomnia, anxiety, heart palpitations, restlessness, fever, digestive issues, fatigue and other symptoms, so balancing these can be part of both mood and immune-boosting. Orange or vegetable juice or coconut water are much better options than sugary electrolyte drinks.
Another mineral to consider is zinc. Zinc supports immune function, helps regulate the function of white blood cells and has some antioxidant function. Zinc lozenges at the first sign of a sore throat can curb a cold. You can also get zinc through pumpkin seeds, pumpkin seed protein powder or pumpkin seed butter, plus protein and iron. These powerhouse seeds are also known for supporting sleep and their connection to sexual function for men because of their zinc content (more mood boosting?).
Coming back to colours, another important vitamin is Vitamin A, considered the “anti-infective vitamin.” We can get this vitamin by eating plenty of colourful vegetables that contain Beta-Carotene. Add some citrus fruits or berries to the mix for Vitamin C and antioxidants. Getting your Vitamin C is a given when it comes to immunity and boasts many more benefits.
While you’re eating more vegetables, be sure to add some garlic into the mix. This “king of herbs” has been proven to be as effective as some antibiotics without the side effects. Eating it as close to raw as possible is important to get maximum benefit, so I usually cut the intensity with a slice of lemon (this intensity will also ensure you don’t go overboard in how much you eat). Not only is garlic antibiotic and antimicrobial, it is also heart healthy and energy boosting, among many other benefits.
This is in no way an exhaustive list. There are many more options for both mood and immunity-boosting, but I hope this has started or encouraged you on the trail of taking both more fully into your own hands.
Sending you another hug,