As summer winds down and we move into fall, our energy levels are inclined to wane. Fewer daylight hours, less sunshine, and lowered temperatures all contribute to reducing our energy stores and potentially affecting our mood.
The good news is that there are healthy, natural ways to boost energy levels, elevate our mood, and enhance well-being during the colder months.
Focus on filling up with the following foods and drinks and look forward to an energetic fall!
- Root vegetables: Our bodies naturally crave more concentrated energy in the cooler fall weather, so be sure to include vegetables such as sweet potatoes, yams, squash, and beets in your diet. Chinese Medicine Philosophy teaches that when eaten, the strong downward energy of root vegetables lends us their “grounding” properties, making us feel physically and mentally “rooted,” thereby increasing our stability, stamina, and endurance.
- Vitamin D–rich foods: Vitamin D is produced by the body when it is exposed to sunlight, and a deficiency of Vitamin D over the winter months is thought to be one of the causes of SAD (seasonal affective disorder). A boost of Vitamin D can help to relieve mood disorders by increasing the amount of serotonin –one of the neurotransmitters responsible for the “feel good factor”—in the brain. Some great dietary sources of vitamin D include wild-caught salmon and other oily fish, grass-fed meat, and organic egg yolks.
- Green leafy vegetables: The color green is associated with life, vitality, and renewal, and it’s no coincidence that green leafy vegetables are among the most nutrient-dense foods available. Packed full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, folic acid, chlorophyll, and antioxidants, leafy greens provide steady energy and are an excellent choice of food to boost immune function. Some great examples to integrate into your fall diet include kale, collards, bok choy, dandelion greens, chicory, and wild greens.
- Wholegrain cereals: Whole and unrefined grains—such as oats, quinoa, wild rice, and rye—have long been known to be important for overall digestive and heart health, as well as maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and providing steady energy. Packed with a multitude of nutrients, they are also high in vitamin B12, which has been associated with helping to prevent depression.
- Citrus fruits: Winter citrus fruits—such as oranges, pomelos, grapefruit, and tangelos—contain naturally high levels of vitamin C and folate. Research shows that vitamin C can help to increase our resistance to pathogens and infection, which are especially prevalent in the colder months. Folate is also thought to be important in enhancing moods and, like Vitamin B12 and D, is believed to play a role in the creation of serotonin.
- Fermented foods: Fermented foods and drinks offer numerous health-protective benefits and are a rich source of beneficial probiotic bacteria. Recent research has shown that these foods aid in digestion, support immune function, and offer exceptional nutrient density. The work of neurologist Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, which explores the gut-brain connection, suggests that an imbalance of intestinal flora can affect our intellects, moods, and behavior. Just a few examples of foods that will help to increase your intestinal flora include sauerkraut, kombucha tea, kefir, yogurt, and kimchi.
- Garlic: This amazing vegetable has been used for thousands of years in the treatment of illness and disease. It’s believed that consuming between 1 to 2 cloves of garlic daily offers the same benefits to fight off a cold. For those who don’t like the taste or smell of raw garlic, an odorless supplement can be taken, as well.
- Water: As the weather cools down, many of us will choose a warming drink over a glass of water. Yet keeping your body and brain hydrated with pure water is probably one of the most important things that you can do for your health. Our body is two-thirds water, so ensuring a steady intake, especially when it’s cold, allows our digestive and elimination functions to work correctly and ensures that concentration and energy levels are not compromised.