Our body naturally needs sunlight to produce vitamin D which, among other functions, regulates the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin. The lack of natural sunlight, at the same time, asks our body to produce more melatonin. Yes, that’s right, it seems our body wants us to go to hibernation as the days get shorter.
The tricky part is, to produce melatonin the body needs serotonin. Yet, without sunlight (and vitamin D) our body doesn’t easily make serotonin. To add insult to injury, the body takes whatever serotonin that we have left to keep up with the demand for melatonin. This is a doubly whammy and causes a significant depletion of our serotonin levels, which among other things, affects our mood.
Want to climb out of that dark hole? Try to reduce your consumption of processed foods, sugar, coffee, and alcohol. Choose nutrition sources that boost your “happy hormones”.
Here is a quick and easy smoothie recipe with nutrient-dense ingredients to help increase energy levels and provide sources of essential amino acids such as L-Tryptophan, the precursor for serotonin.
“Spice up your Mood” Smoothie
Step 1: Add the following ingredients to your blender
- 1 cup of fresh kale leaves (or substitute with spinach)
- This dark, leafy green offers an abundance of minerals and nutrients such as vitamin A, C, K, & B6, as well as calcium, copper, manganese, and potassium
- ½ of a ripe avocado
- Not only are avocados a great source of vitamins A, C, E and K, they also provide healthy fats to support the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.
- 2-4 medjool dates:
- These natural sweeteners are rich in protein, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and fibre
- 1 tbsp of almond or mixed nut-butter
- Adding nut-butters will provide you with a healthy dose of vitamin Bs, fibre, protein, and healthy fats
- ½ tbsp pumpkin and sesame seeds or ½ tsp tahini
- 1-2 tbsp of sugar-free apple sauce
- 1/3 tsp of pumpkin spice or a blend of cinnamon, clove, ginger and nutmeg
- Add almond milk (or any other alternative milk) until you reach your desired consistency
Step 2: Blend until smooth
Step 3: Enjoy as-is or... top with more spice!
For a tropical and fresh twist, substitute the apple sauce, pumpkin spice, and almond milk with coconut milk and the juice of 1 key lime – yum!