How to Fight a Cold or Flu – Holistic Tips-Autoimmune Safe

In order to give your body the best chance of fighting off a cold or flu virus, it’s very important to be in tune with your body. Oftentimes, right before a cold or flu virus takes hold, you might feel more tired than usual. You might experience fatigue, or body aches and pain. Listen to the clues your body gives you!

In this video, I share strategies I’ve been using for the past ten years to ward off illness during cold and and flu season.

There are so many ways we can support the immune system and provide protection against catching a cold or flu. Reducing stress and eliminating certain things from your diet can have a huge impact on the body’s ability to stop a virus from taking hold of your body (backed by science). Before doing the things I share in this video, I used to get sick quite frequently. Growing up I had chronic throat infections (even into my early 30s) before changing my diet and lifestyle habits

But did you know, even if we’re exposed to a virus, there are 6 stages that are essential for that virus to replicate. If you act immediately and don’t delay, you can halt the process before it takes hold. But you have to be in tune with your body and recognize the first signs so you can take action as soon as possible. These days, even if I feel like I’m about to get sick, I immediately jump into action and my symptoms end up being very mild and only last a few days at most. Please stay safe and healthy!

Articles, Videos

5 Signs Your Diet Isn’t Working For You

Confused about which type of diet is most suitable for you? It can be extremely frustrating to weed through all the health and nutrition info out there, especially if you’re living with a chronic health condition. In this video I list 5 things that might be going on in your body, which might help lead you in the right direction as far as your food choices. 


6 Nutrients That Help Repair Myelin-Multiple Sclerosis

When the myelin sheath is damaged, nerves do not conduct electrical impulses normally. This results in sensations like: muscle weakness, tingling pins and needle sensations, memory problems, and fatigue. Yes, all the symptoms of MS! The good news is that with the help of certain nutrients, the human body has an amazing natural ability to repair myelin. In the video, I talk about 6 of them.


How to Follow an Anti-inflammatory Diet

My entire 6-part video series on how to follow an anti-inflammatory diet is now up on my YouTube channel!
This is probably some of the most important information I have to share because inflammation is connected with so many different health conditions, including multiple sclerosis, which I have been living with for 19 years now. As long as the body is inflamed, it will be very difficult to manage any health condition.
Excessive levels of inflammation has also been found in people diagnosed with Covid-19. In severe cases, hyper-inflammation, also know as a cytokine storm can exacerbate breathing difficulties.

Watch the first video in this series below, which will help you assess your levels of inflammation.

Part 1: Are you Inflamed?
Part 2: Lifestyle Factors That Contribute to Inflammation
Part 3: Digestive Inflammation
Part 4: Inflammatory Foods
Part 5: Anti-inflammatory Foods
Part 6: Anti-inflammatory Herbs and Supplements

* If you would like a copy of all the notes from this series, which includes a list of both inflammatory foods, anti-inflammatory foods and supplements plus some bonus information, it can be found HERE.


COVID-19 Prevention and Recovery Guide

I am not a doctor. I am a holistic nutritionist.
This information is intended for general wellbeing and educational purposes. It is not meant to substitute for the advice of a medical professional. Never take any nutritional supplement before talking to your primary health care provider. Please follow public health advisories.

Scroll down for holistic tips.
Also see: What to do at the first signs

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

As the number of cases of COVID-19 continues to grow, I thought I’d put together a holistic protocol that covers both prevention and recovery.

How the Virus Spreads
Human coronaviruses cause infections of the nose, throat and lungs. They are most commonly spread from an infected person through:

  • respiratory droplets generated when you cough or sneeze
  • close, prolonged personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands

Standard Prevention Protocol

In general, the following advice can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others:

  • stay home if you are sick
  • when coughing or sneezing: cover your mouth and nose with your arm to reduce the spread of germs
  • dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards
  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands


Holistic Strategies for Added Protection

Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Studies show that sugar compromises the immune system by decreasing neutrophil activity (cells in the immune system that fight infection and pathogens). Sugar also makes our bodies more acidic, which is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and viruses to thrive. The more sugar we have in our bloodstream, the less immune protection we have.


  • Use lower glycemic sweeteners such as stevia.
  • Replace heavily sweetened and processed candy and sweets with fruit or homemade, low sugar treats.
  • Healthier treats: baked apples sprinkled with cinnamon, zucchini banana muffins sweetened with apple sauce or homemade pumpkin spice oatmeal cookies.
  • Kale, zucchini or apple chips and baked chickpeas make delicious and nutritious snack options.

Vitamin D (antiviral)
Multiple studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency can harm immune function and increase your risk of developing respiratory illnesses. Vitamin D is necessary for the proper functioning of your immune system, which is your body’s first line of defence against infection and disease. Studies provide evidence that vitamin D deficiency may lead to an increased risk of viral infections such as influenza and respiratory tract infections. For those of us living in North America, shorter days during these winter months means less exposure to sunlight and greater odds of suffering from low vitamin D, which can lead to lowered immunity.


  • If you can’t spend at least 20-25 minutes in direct sunlight each day, try supplementing with vitamin D3.
    Increase your consumption of vitamin D rich foods like fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna), eggs and mushrooms.
  • Be sure to also get enough magnesium. Vitamin D needs magnesium to activate.

Zinc (antiviral)
Zinc is important for a healthy immune system and is known to stop viral replication and is useful in relieving respiratory symptoms and sore throats.


  • Zinc supplements and lozenges are available in most health food stores or pharmacies.
  • Food sources include: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, kelp, legumes, lima beans, pecans, whole grains, eggs, liver, and oysters.

Vitamin C (antiviral)
Vitamin C for is important for immune support because of  its strong antioxidant and antiviral properties.
A lack of vitamin C has been long known to increase susceptibility to viruses. In fact, studies have shown that vitamin C deficiency is related to the increased risk and severity of influenza infections.
However, not all vitamin C is created equal! Vitamin C in tablet form does not deliver the full range of benefits since they poorly absorbed.
For optimal immune support against viruses I recommend at least 1,000 to 3,000 mg of liposomal vitamin C  a day. Liposomal delivery allows the vitamin C to bypass through the digestive system for better absorption into the bloodstream.


  • Increase vitamin C from whole food sources like lemons, limes, red peppers, broccoli, cantaloupe, papaya and leafy greens like kale, spinach and swiss chard.
  • Avoid drinking orange juice. Eat the entire orange instead! Orange juice is not the best source of vitamin C since both glucose and vitamin C have the same receptor sites for absorption (glut-1 receptor transport system). Orange juice is a concentrated form of sugar. Higher levels of circulating blood sugar means less vitamin C will enter the cells. The Glut-1 receptor transport system has a preference for glucose, which means it will choose sugar over Vitamin C when given the opportunity.

Garlic and Onions
Garlic and onions possess natural antibiotic and anti-microbial properties. Use them in your everyday cooking to keep colds and viruses at bay.


  • Use daily in meals by adding fresh garlic and onions to soups, salads, pasta sauces and stir-fry recipes.
  • For acute cold and flu symptoms, crush one clove of garlic on a spoon, cover with manuka honey and swallow with a tiny amount of water before bed.
  • For extra immune system protection, try combining fresh garlic, onions and ginger in recipes for an increased synergetic effect!

Turmeric has potent anti-microbial properties to help the immune system fight off bacteria and viruses and acts as a potent pain reliever. Fermented turmeric optimizes its potency and is 1.5 times stronger than the regular turmeric.


  • Add to soups, stews, stir-fry or smoothies.
  • For acute pain, mix 1/2 tsp. of turmeric to one cup of almond milk with 1 tsp. honey.
  • Turmeric can also be purchased in capsule form.

Elderberry Extract
* Use caution if you have an autoimmune condition.
Scientists have identified a chemical compound in elderberries that immediately immobilizes the flu virus. The unique phytochemicals found in elderberries block the virus from entering, or even attaching to, our healthy cells, when taken preventatively during flu season.
Even if the flu has already taken hold, the compound prevents the virus from replicating, eliminating symptoms within 48 hours.
The high antioxidant, antiviral properties of elderberry extract is useful for treating coughs, colds, flu, tonsillitis and bacterial & viral infections . It is also recommended for upper respiratory tract infections and headaches associated with the common cold and helps to promotes sweating, which can help break a fever.

Oil of Oregano
Numerous studies have shown oil of oregano to be a potent antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal agent. Remarkably, it accomplishes this without promoting the development of drug resistant viruses and other problems often attributed to the use of standard antibiotics.


  • Oil of oregano drops can be placed under the tongue or added to a tiny amount of water.<
  • It also comes in capsule form./li>

* Use caution if you have an autoimmune condition.
There have been over 300 scientific investigations into the immune-enhancing effects of the echinacea purpurea root. Unlike traditional antibiotics or natural herbs that kill bacteria directly, echinacea works indirectly by stimulating the body to produce more infection-fighting white blood cells. It may also stimulate the release of interferons, one of the body’s most potent infection-fighting weapons which prevent bacteria and viruses from reproducing.

Probiotics support the immune system by improving digestion and absorption of nutrients. They also reduce inflammatory responses in the body. Probiotics are also important during and after a round of antibiotics to replace the beneficial bacteria in the gut that is destroyed during antibiotic therapy.


  • Supplement with a high quality multi-strain probiotic. 50 Billion strength is ideal if you have taken antibiotics.

Stress Reduction and Relaxation
Ongoing stress can make us more susceptible to illnesses. Reducing the amount of stress in your life and improving your ability to cope with stress can help improve the immune system. There’s evidence that when you put your relaxation skills into action, interleukins (leaders in the immune system response against cold and flu viruses) increase in the bloodstream.


  • Try deep breathing exercises to lessen the effects of stress.
  • Practice guided imagery, meditation or yoga.
  • Enjoy a warm bath with lavender or clove essential oils at the end of a long day.

Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise appears to have the ability to reduce the frequency of colds and flus. With exercise, the number and aggressiveness of certain immune cells, such natural killer cells, increase by as much as 50% to 300%. If you exercise regularly, this increase can help make the immune system more efficient at destroying intruders that cause illness.
During the winter months, take advantage of the wonderful activities the cooler weather can bring.


  • Explore walking or biking on park trails
  • In colder weather try ice skating, tobogganing or skiing, build snowmen
  • Indoor activities: listen to music and dance while doing house chores, take the stairs instead of the elevator, run or walk in place while watching t.v.

Cold and Flu Recovery Diet

What if you’ve already caught the virus and want to recover faster? Follow these diet and lifestyle tips to boost your recovery.

Lung Healing Protocol
Avoid Lung Irritants: Smoking, chemicals, bleach, fragrances, dust, pollution
These increase the risk of lung infection by irritating the nose, throat, and lower airways. This causes the body to produce more mucus.

Helpful Herbal Tinctures
Respirafect by St. Francis Herb Farm

  • Contains a combination of antiviral, anti-inflammatory herbs. Combats lung and bronchial infections, especially when accompanied by sputum coughed up from lower airways.
  • Demulcent anti-inflammatory that helps the lungs eliminate the burden of excess mucus.

Dealing With a Cough
A cough may develop when the body is trying to expel fluid from the lungs to get rid of the infection. Therefore, using a cough suppressant is not the best idea. It is still possible to reduce the severity of a cough using natural methods.

Saltwater Gargle
Mucus sitting in the throat and chest can lead to more coughing and irritation. A warm saltwater gargle may help eliminate mucus or germs in the throat, which may provide some relief.

Herbal Teas to Treat A Cough
Peppermint, eucalyptus, ginger,  licorice root, marshmallow root, mullein

Consume Mucus-Reducing Foods
Warm fluids help break-up mucus, flush your system of toxins and promote hydration.Stay hydrated with herbal teas, vegetable soups and bone broth.
Vegetable soups, bone broth, leafy greens, broccoli, kale, romaine lettuce, celery, onion, garlic, ginger salmon, tuna, nuts and seeds

Avoid Mucus Forming Foods
Milk, bread, pasta, cereal, bananas, potatoes, corn, soy products, sweet desserts, candy, coffee, soda, alcoholic beverages

Dealing With a Fever
Allowing a low-grade fever (up to 102° F) to run it course may actually be beneficial. An elevated temperature is the body’s way of fighting infection.


  • Stay Hydrated. Replace fluid loss by drinking water, herbal tea, fresh juices and broths.
    Get plenty of rest.
  • Take a cool sponge bath.

* If you are living with an autoimmune condition or any other serious health condition, please consult your primary health care provider before taking any herbal supplement.

Flu-Fighting Essentials
Natural Factors Vitamin D3 Softgels
Liposomal Vitamin C 

Elderberry capsules
Oil of Oregano

Fermented Turmeric 
Echinacea Super Concentrated Softgel Capsules
Advanced Gut Health Probiotics
Zinc-Copper Balance Capsules 
Stop It Cold Throat Spray
Respirafect for Lung Infections 



Avocado Health Benefits

From heart health to joint health to skin health, avocados are one food that definitely nourishes the body from the inside out!

Articles, Living with MS

It all starts in the gut!

The reason why Module 1 of my MS program starts with addressing gut health is because according to the holistic model of health, the underlying cause of autoimmune reactions is triggered by intestinal hyperpermeability, commonly referred to as leaky gut syndrome.

In this scenario within the digestive system, the intestinal lining becomes irritated and inflamed and allows substances such as undigested proteins, microbes, and toxins to slip into the bloodstream (where they do not belong). The immune system detects and registers them as foreign substances. This puts the immune system on high alert to attack these substances as a method of self defense.

A mechanism called molecular mimicry, in which these foreign antigens in the blood stream share structural similarities with self-antigens now has the body attacking your own tissues. In order to stop this misguided immune system response, it’s important to remove foods and other factors that could be contributing to inflammation in the body. This is crucial because anything that irritates (the body or mind), can keep the body in a state of low-grade inflammation.

We start with the basics in this program by addressing digestive health. The reason for this is because we could be doing all the right things and eating the healthiest diet possible, but simple eating habits we might be practicing could be undoing all that good.

For example, if we’re drinking large amounts of water with meals or eating too fast, these type of eating habits stress the digestive system and impairs the way the body digests and absorbs nutrients. This is a stressor to the body and the digestive system. If we want to stop the body from initiating an autoimmune response, we need to be aware of some very simple habits that could be causing irritation to the gut lining.

Check out the first module of the program. It’s free, seriously no catch.
Check it out >> HERE <<



Why Do We Get a Lump in Our Throat When We’re Sad?

Whether we’re overcome with joy at a beautiful wedding ceremony, or we just watched a sad Humane Society commercial, our bodies respond in much the same way.

Many of us who cry or are on the verge of crying often feel a lump-like sensation in the throat. As there isn’t an actual lump forming in our throat, where does the sensation come from? The answer may lie in the autonomic nervous system.

To understand why we get lumps in our throats, we must first talk generally about why we cry, and what happens inside our bodies when we do.

The exact reason we cry is sort of a mystery, but there’s strong evidence to suggest that crying is a form of non-verbal communication that we’ve evolved as incredibly social creatures.

This means that crying serves as a way for us to tell people around us of our emotional state and, therefore, elicit their support. As Bec Crew explains:

“Emotional tears kick in during times where you feel a loss of control, and scientists think that, along with other physical reactions such as an increased heart rate and slower breathing, our stress hormone- and endorphin-laden tears are there to quickly stabilise your mood, and perhaps act as a very obvious signal to those around us that we may be in need of some cuddles”.

These intimate, tearful moments when we are comforted by another person help us solidify our personal relationships, which are vital for us humans.

Making stronger bonds isn’t the only suspected reason. Some researchers think that crying was once a way for us to submit to attackers.

By showing signs of submission, an attacker – likely another human – would pity us and leave us be (or at least alive). Obviously, this is generally not a good defense against, say, a lion attack, because they couldn’t care less about your emotions.

With that in mind, what happens internally – on a physical level – when we start to get emotional?

As Nick Knight explains for The Independent, your autonomic nervous system – the overarching system that controls other nervous systems like the sympathetic nervous system – kicks into gear, and causes a bunch of different reactions inside your body depending on the circumstances.

This is the same system that controls your ‘fight or flight’ response along with other unconscious body functions like digestion. When this system switches to hyper mode, it first sends out oxygen all over your body to make it easier for you to punch something in the face, or run away in the opposite direction to safety.

To spread oxygen to all of your muscles, your body must first breathe it in. In an effort to take in more air, the nervous system tells the glottis – the opening in your throat that ushers air into lungs without taking food with it – to stay open for as long as possible. In other words, your throat opens wider than normal because a bigger opening means more air.

You don’t actually feel your glottis opening wide. If you did, everyday life would feel awfully strange. What you do feel, though, is muscle tension caused by your body trying to keep your glottis open even when you swallow.

Normally, when you aren’t crying, your glottis opens and closes when you swallow all day long. This ensures that food and spit go one way and air goes the other, with no mix-ups in between.

But, when you cry or are on the verge of crying, your glottis is trying to stay open, but gets forced close every time you swallow. This tension messes with the muscles in your throat, giving the sensation of a lump.

The lump feeling is actually referred to as globus sensation, and it happens to everyone in these stressful situations. Normally, this feeling dissipates quickly once you calm down and your glottis goes back to functioning like it used to.

As for tears, the process happens very much the same way: your nervous system prompts tear production.

Obviously, as anyone who has ever cried knows all too well, crying also causes a slew of other side effects, like a runny nose, red face, and possibly even a headache. These are all due to the fact that your tear ducts are so closely connected to your sinuses that they basically turn you into a ball of snot.

So pretend, if you will, that someone is breaking up with you (sorry, it’s not real, don’t worry!). When the news hits, your nervous system kicks into gear and triggers your fight or flight response. Your body starts trying to circulate more oxygen to your muscles while also triggering your tear ducts.

As your start to cry, you also start to breathe heavier to get more oxygen into your system. To compensate for this, your glottis is held open. At this point, you’re really crying. Tears are streaming down, and mucus is building in your nose and throat, causing you to swallow.

As soon as you do, the muscles in your throat get confused and close your glottis, which is essentially being propped open, and that strain causes the lump inside your throat.

There you have it! That lump in your throat is actually just your body being kind of awesome, transforming you into a better breathing machine.

Shared from


Holiday Survival Tips for Both the Body and Mind

Delicious food, holiday celebrations and a little added stress can make sticking to your health goals a challenge. You work hard to keep yourself well and feeling good and in balance all year long so there is no reason why the holidays should be any different!

Follow these simple tips to enjoy the holidays and help keep you balanced, both body and mind.

For The Body

Don’t Show Up to Events Hungry
To keep your blood sugar balanced and your appetite in control, eat a small meal or snack before you attend any party or event.  When blood sugar drops and hunger sets in, we tend to want to eat everything in sight. Eat a small, nutritious meal before going to a holiday party or dinner so that you arrive well-fuelled and in a positive mood to fully enjoy the moment. Then when it comes to meal time you will be able to make wise food choices and keep portions in a healthy balance.

Support Your Digestive Health
To avoid bloating and digestive distress after meals, follow some of following tips below.

  • Avoid drinking large amounts of liquid with your meals. Drinking large amounts of any liquid (water or wine) with a meal dilutes your digestive enzymes and can slow digestion, leading to gas and bloating. Small sips during meals are alright but if you are prone to digestive problems, avoid drinking large amounts while eating.
  • Consider taking a digestive enzyme before a large meal.
  • Support your gut and immune system with probiotics.
  • Wait an hour after dinner to have dessert. Sugar and starch have a much faster digestion time than protein-rich foods. If you often suffer from gas and bloating after meals, try waiting an hour to eat dessert after eating a heavy protein meal.

Fill Up on Veggies
It’s the holidays and let’s face it, there are going to a lot of treats around and it’s difficult not to indulge..just a little! Hopefully, there will also be a lot of amazing healthy dishes as well! Fill your plate with veggies and high-quality protein to fuel your body with the good stuff, which leaves less room for when the desserts come out.

Let There Be Dessert
That said, allow yourself a few treats. Even though I come from a family of amazing bakers, I know how much I’ll regret it if I allow myself to overindulge in sugary sweets and treats. You don’t have to deprive yourself of fun food. Practice mindfulness when choosing to indulge. Have a couple of your favourite holiday treats or if you have the time and energy, bring a healthier dessert or treat to the festivities.

Get Moving
Off-set some of the big meals you might have by staying active. A short 10 minute walk after a meal helps to balance your blood sugar and allow your body to better use the nutrients that you have just consumed. Getting some additional exercise will also help to offset any additional calories consumed and helps to manage stress levels as well!

Get Enough Rest
Don’t overschedule yourself. Be sure to take time out if you need to. Balance is key!

For The Mind

  • Start each day with gratitude.
  • Let go of expectations.
  • Be mindful of your mental health.
  • Slow down and enjoy the time with friends and family.
  • Breathe deeply.
  • Give thanks & have fun!

If loud family gatherings cause you stress, take a moment to remove yourself from the crowd and reflect on everything you have to be grateful for. When I was younger, I found it stressful to attend large family gatherings but now that my father is longer with us, I realize I’ll never get that time back with him and it has helped me seek out ways to manage situations I used to avoid.

As someone who is very sensitive to the energy around me, I’ve learned to protect myself from absorbing any stress or negativity from others using the following technique.

Calling in the Light – White Light Meditation.

Find a quiet spot. Close your eyes, calm the breath, and then image in your mind’s eye a bright white light forming a protective shield around your body and any other person or object you want to safeguard. This simple meditation can be used to both protect you from absorbing negative energy, while at the same time filling the space with divine light and love.

Repeat the following:
I ask that divine light and love surround and guide me. I release any attachments, any negative energy, anything that is not love into the light of the divine so I can shine with my highest vibrational light. I radiate love and respect and in return, I receive love, protection and respect.


Beat the Winter Blues Before They Start!

It’s dark when I wake up in the morning and dark before I leave work! I don’t know about you, but I’m already starting to miss the sun! These cold, short days are getting to me early this year.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to a change in the seasons. It can start in the fall and continue into the winter months, draining your energy and making you feel moody. We might not be able to change the seasons, but we can change what we do and how we respond. Sometimes we just have to create our own sunshine!

Here are some of my tried-and-true tips for boosting your mood during the dark days of winter!

1. Boost Your Happy Hormones

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and hormone that regulates sleep, mood and appetite. An imbalance of serotonin can cause anxiety, irritability, chronic pain and depression.

Ways to Increase Serotonin

Choose positive thoughts: When we choose to remember happy events in the past, or focus on what we’re grateful for, our brains produce more serotonin. You are the gatekeeper of your mind and your mind has the power to shape your reality. Every thought we have  impacts a field of energy around us. Allow positive thoughts and gratitude to guide you.

Fun in the sun: Exposure to sunlight aids in the production of serotonin. Increase outdoor activities as best you can. When the snow comes, try to enjoy fun winter activities like ice skating, skiing, tobogganing, building snowmen, or simply take a bundled up walk through a park with some hot chocolate. Dark chocolate of course!

Low intensity exercise: Serotonin increases from aerobic exercise and lingers in our system afterwards. A study from Harvard University suggests fast paced walking for about 35 minutes a day five times a week, or 60 minutes a day three times a week improved symptoms of mild to moderate depression. Exercising under bright lights may be even better for seasonal depression. A preliminary study found that exercise under bright light improved general mental health, social functioning, symptoms of depression, and vitality.

Friendly food combining: Foods high in the essential amino acid tryptophan are a precursor to serotonin. Try eating slow release complex carbohydrates in combination with those containing tryptophan. The release of insulin from the carbohydrate will allow the tryptophan to be carried to the brain.

When most people hear the word tryptophan, they probably think of turkey and Thanksgiving dinner, but there are plenty of other food sources of this wonderful amino acid! Notice how some foods on the list below are both a source of tryptophan and complex carbs. Bonus!

Tryptophan Containing Foods
Brown rice, quinoa, chickpeas, sprouted tofu, bananas, oats, spinach, cabbage, asparagus, broccoli, watercress, turnip greens, seaweed, spirulina, kidney beans, lima beans, mung beans, hazelnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, pistachios, walnuts, cashews, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, eggs, chicken, turkey, whey protein powder

Complex Carbs
Sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash, carrots, peas, quinoa, brown rice, steel cut oats, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, beans, lentils, legumes, chickpeas, chia seeds

Mood Boosting Meal Ideas
Hummus collard wrap and sweet potato salad with pumpkin seeds and walnuts
• Strawberry banana, coconut yogurt smoothie with ground chia seeds
• Fully Loaded quinoa breakfast bowl
• Banana nut cinnamon oatmeal sprinkled with hemp seeds
• Quinoa salad with chickpeas and broccoli florets topped with ground flax seed

2. Eat a Balanced Diet

A lot of us crave sweet, salty, high-fat foods in high stress situations or when we’re depressed because these types of foods stimulate the brain to release pleasure chemicals that reduce tension. This soothing effect is so addictive and habit-forming that we literally train ourselves to crave comfort foods every time we feel anxious.

A lack of healthy food in the diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies. This will create imbalances in the body and contribute to low moods and depression. Eat a large variety of whole foods to ensure you are getting enough of the following vitamins and minerals.

Common Deficiencies That Contribute to Low Moods and Depression

B vitamins
B vitamins are necessary for the normal functioning of the nervous system and naturally boost our energy levels. They are also known as anti-stress vitamins and are an important contributor in the biochemical production of serotonin. A deficiency in any B vitamin, especially B6, B1, B3 and B12 can impair the body’s ability to manufacture serotonin.

The good news is there is a bountiful list of foods containing B vitamins, many of which also contain tryptophan! It’s always a good idea to get B vitamins from eating whole foods, but if you choose to take a supplement, look for a full spectrum B complex.

Food Sources of B Vitamins: Cabbage, cantaloupe, green leafy vegetables, spinach, walnuts, almonds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, bananas, turnip, cauliflower, oats, bell peppers, peas, collards, avocado,  nutritional yeast, rice bran, blackstrap molasses, whole grains, quinoa, tuna, halibut, salmon, cod, chicken and turkey.

* Beneficial bacteria found in fermented foods also help manufacture B vitamins right down inside your gut. This means enjoying things like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha not only help with digestive health, but also contribute to serotonin production!

Essential Fatty Acids
A great deal of scientific data links low tissue levels of EPA and DHA to a host of mental/emotional disorders, including depression.

Food Sources: Fish, fish oil, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, almonds, avocado

Vitamin D
A deficiency in vitamin D, also known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, can be linked to depression, lack of energy and low moods. This time of year, short days means less exposure to sun, and less vitamin D. Are you getting enough? Read up on it  >> here.

Chronically low magnesium levels coupled with a lack of sunshine can have a significant impact on mood and energy levels. Magnesium helps reduce anxiety, improves circulation and is a major factor in the production of serotonin and melatonin, both of which can play a crucial role in seasonal affective disorder.  

Magnesium Foods: Oats, almonds, hemp seeds, peas, brown rice, sweet potatoes, salmon and dark chocolate.

Zinc is another important co-factor required for increasing serotonin levels. Zinc supplementation has been shown to have antidepressant effects. Studies have shown that blood zinc concentration levels in depressed individuals is lower than in non-depressed control groups. Additionally, there was evidence that incrementally lower zinc levels correlated positively with the severity of clinical depression.

Sources of Zinc
Kelp, legumes, lima beans, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, whole grains, alfalfa, cayenne, parsley, sage, dandelion, fennel seed, wild yam, eggs, fish, oysters, liver

3. Skip the Sugar, You’re Sweet Enough Already!

Studies have shown that sugar actually lights up the pleasure and reward center of our brain, the same way it does when we’re falling in love.  Sugar and other quick fix carbs give us an instant lift because they trigger the release of serotonin, which calms and soothes us – our very own built in chill pill, if you will.  But, when we use sugary snacks to boost serotonin, we create a bigger problem by depleting our natural serotonin stores over time.

Low serotonin can often intensify cravings for sugar. This is the body’s way of trying to increase serotonin since eating sugar produces insulin, which helps carry tryptophan to the brain. Too much sugar however can eventually lead to insulin resistance.

Instead, try satisfying your sweet tooth in a healthier way with low glycemic fruit such as apples or blueberries, or with a protein packed snack like almond butter or hemp butter on celery or apple slices. Replace white sugar with more nutrient dense sweeteners like coconut sugar or maple syrup.

4. Feel Serene With L-Theanine

You might not have ever heard of L-theanine, but there’s a good chance you’ve had it without even knowing it!  L-Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea. Studies have shown L-theanine significantly increases activity in the alpha waves in the brain, creating a feeling of relaxation, while maintaining mental alertness and the ability to focus. L-Theanine is also available in capsule form or chewable tablets.

5. That Magic Touch

Not only does physical touch help manage stress levels by lowering cortisol and increasing dopamine and serotonin, but studies have also shown it can boost the immune system and even slow the progress of disease.  One study conducted by the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine shows that massage increases serotonin by 28% and decreases cortisol by 31%.

Other forms of healing touch include hugging your partner, cuddling, Reiki, contact between breastfeeding mothers and their babies, and owners interacting with their pets.

6. Himalayan Salt Lamps

Himalayan salt lamps are made from large rock crystals of salt. They give off a soft, soothing light and have been credited with providing various health benefits including relief from allergies, fatigue and depression. Positive ions are released by electrical devices such as computer screens, televisions, and telephones. Exposure to excess positive ions can cause feelings of lethargy, fatigue, and even depression. Salt lamps can help bring emotional balance into our lives because they generate negative ions, which help us to feel more energized and uplifted.