As the temperatures keep dropping and the days get shorter, we all know that winter is well on it’s way. With the excitement of the holidays and festivities, pulling out those cozy sweaters and warm slippers can be a fun change of pace from the hot summer. Then suddenly, BAM. Daylight Savings hits, and it is dark outside before you even get home from work or school. The reality of winter seems to hit with full force in a single day, and you know you won’t being seeing much sun for the next several months. Not to mention, the change in time can throw off your entire sleep schedule. This can be an extremely depressing time for many people. Studies have shown that increased numbers of depression cases reported after daylight savings is too significant to be dismissed as a coincidence.
So what does this mean for people with Crohn’s? Well, for starters, it is extremely important to acknowledge and be aware of the fact that this sudden time change could effect you. Having a chronic illness can really take a toll on one’s mental health, and when you already feel daily fatigue as it is (even before the time change) things can spin out of control quickly. Because Crohn’s and Depression can go hand-in-hand for many people, taking note of how you are feeling and introducing some extra nutrition into your diet to boost your mood during this time could help you fight the blues. Of course there are many medical professional treatments you should seek if you are feeling depressed in addition to nutrition, but here are a few foods to consider if you find yourself feeling a bit down after day light savings.
Vitamin B Complex
B Vitamins work directly with your nervous system and can help reduce depression. Countless studies have shown that B Vitamins play a role in your emotional well being and mental health. (In particular, Vitamin B-6 and Folic Acid.) However, these vitamins cannot be stored in our bodies, and it is crucial to maintain daily consumption to keep up the nutrition. Additionally, foods like refined sugars, alcohol and caffeine can destroy these vitamins.
There are many fruits high in B vitamins. With Crohn’s, it can be a bit tricky to get the nutrition necessary from fruit if they are difficult to digest, such as strawberries and raspberries, or citrusy fruits like oranges. Some possible favorable fruits for digestion are avocado, mango, passionfruit, pineapple, bananas, papaya, apples and watermelon. Getting a bit of tropical fruits into your diet during these dark nights can only brighten your day, right?
Recipe: Mango Avocado Salsa – High In Vitamin B
Fortunately, many Vegetables that are high in B vitamins include several fall and winter squash. It is as if mother nature knows that we need a Vitamin B boost during this time. Butternut Squash, Squash, Spaghetti Squash, Sweet Potatoes and regular Potatoes are all high in B Vitamins. Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards and spinach are also high in Vitamin B, but can often be difficult for people with Crohn’s to digest.
The recipes for Squash are truly endless. Here are a few recipes to check out from Real Simple:
Vitamin C plays a major role in mediating your stress response. By managing the production of cortisol that gets released into the bloodstream (a stress hormone which induces anxiety and depression), Vitamin C can help reduce chronic stress, adrenal fatigue and depression.
Foods such as Guava, Papaya, Kiwi and Yellow Bell Peppers are high in Vitamin C. Dark Leafy Vegetables, Broccoli, Peas, Cooked Tomatoes and Citrus Fruits are also high in Vitamin C, but again, can be difficult for people with Crohn’s to digest.
Recipe: Papaya-Banana Smoothie – High in Vitamin B & C
It is no coincidence that the lack of sun in the winter months can bring on depression. Missing that Vitamin D from sunlight means we need an extra boost of it in our diets, especially if you find yourself limiting dairy with Crohn’s. Luckily there are many non-dairy foods that can give you that Vitamin D boost that you need.
Mushrooms, Oily Fish such as Salmon, Eggs, Tofu, and Pork are great sources of Vitamin D. Dairy products, such as milk and yogurt are high in Vitamin D, as well as non-dairy substitutes, particularly soy milk and almond milk.
Recipe: Oven Steamed Salmon with Pan Cooked Mushrooms (Opt for white vinegar in place of dry white wine to avoid alcohol.)
Omega 3’s and fatty acids have long been thought to help boost your mood. Although studies are still being done to determine just how Omega 3’s help with depression mood improvement, recent research has shown that the lack of these nutrients in our bodies can have far reaching hormonal effects. These hormonal imbalances can greatly effect our ability to moderate our emotions. Adding more Omega 3 nutrients into your diet is though to help with several clinical depression symptoms, such as increased attention and reduced aggression, possibly by the Omega 3’s ability to enhance cognitive processes.
Oily Fish, such as Salmon, Beef, Eggs and Poultry are great sources of Omega 3’s.
Complex Carbohydrates supply a steady flow of glucose to the brain, which in turn can help stabilize your mood. When energy is released from food slowly, the brain increases serotonin, a chemical which promotes a calmer, happier state with less anxiety. Because complex carbohydrates are often rich in fiber, it can be difficult for people with Crohn’s to get the mood boosting benefits that these foods can provide. Constantly trying to steer clear of foods high in fiber for digestion reasons can leave you vulnerable to missing out on these mood stabilizers.
Although many complex carbs come from foods that Crohnie’s often avoid, such as green vegetables, beans , lentils, whole grains, breads and pastas, they luckily are also found in foods that often work well with Crohn’s. Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, and Oatmeal can be a great way to get complex carbs into your diet.
Due in part to depleted soil, it is much easier to be deficient in magnesium these days than it used to be. Insufficient magnesium in your diet could cause headaches, irritability, behavioral problems and depression.
Many foods high in magnesium, such as sea vegetables, spinach, swiss chard and other dark leafy greens, can be difficult for people with Crohn’s. Avocados and bananas can be a good source for this mineral.
Recipe: Avocado Egg Salad
As if we needed another reason to love turmeric, this medicinal spice is also used as an anti-depressant. Primarily due to the curcuminoid content from the Curcuma longa plant, turmeric helps with depression in several ways. It helps promote growth and survival or nerve cells, and modulates the level of neurotransmitters in the brain. It also helps minimize the inflammatory responses that depression causes to the body.
Recipe: Turmeric Milk
Foods to Avoid for Depression
With all that work to get foods into your diet to boost your mood, the last thing you want to do is undo everything you worked for. Foods like refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, fried foods, alcohol, caffeine and sodium may contribute to your depression. Keep your heads up Crohnie’s. If you start feeling down, take a look at your diet or use a food diary, and see if you are missing some key nutrients.
* PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS MERELY AN OPINION BLOG. THE RESEARCH AND INFORMATION COVERED IN THIS BLOG IS OPEN TO PUBLIC DOMAIN FOR DISCUSSION. WE DO NOT HAVE ANY FORMAL MEDICAL BACKGROUND. WE SIMPLY WANT TO SHARE AND DISCUSS FOODS FOR THOSE WITH CROHN’S DISEASE. BECAUSE PEOPLE SUFFERING FROM CROHN’S DISEASE TOLERATE A VARIETY OF FOODS DIFFERENTLY, RECIPES OFTEN NEED SPECIFIC ALTERATIONS FOR EACH INDIVIDUAL. GET CREATIVE! LEAVE OUT THE FOODS THAT DON’T WORK FOR YOU AND USE THE FOODS THAT MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD. HAPPY COOKING!!