Lifestyle tips to help you beat the Autumn Blues 

Feeling a little low as the cold, dark months draw in is normal, due to lower melatonin, serotonin and vitamin D effecting normal circadian rhythm. It can lead to:

- Loss of  interest in everyday activities 
- Feeling irritable and  lethargic constantly
- Feeling despair, guilt and worthless
- Having a poor sleep pattern

Fortunately, a number lifestyle issues can help maintain and even elevate mood - here's a few of the important ones:
Healthy gut healthy mind
Evidence is emerging for a link between gut health and depression. A study by the University of Cork showed that animals fed with Lactobacillus had significantly fewer stress, anxiety and depression-related behaviours than those fed with standard feed. In humans, a study from California, showed that healthy women consuming probiotics had improved brain function and less markers of stress 
It is hard to motivate yourself to go for a brisk walk or jog on a cold, rainy day but that's precisely the best thing to do to elevate mood. A recent meta-analysis of RCT's involving women with breast cancer reported a 15% reduction in depression in those following a 3 hours a week exercise programme. As well as increasing gut health and lowering inflammation, exercise directly increases mood enhancing endorphines.

Reduce processed sugar 
Despite the short lived rush some people feel after a sugary snack the longer term consequences of eating too much processed sugar are concerning. It effect on glycaemic index and inflammatory makers is particularly bad if taken on an empty stomach. In summary it:
- Causes swing in blood sugar 
- Causes fatigue
- Feeds unhealthy gut bacteria
- Causes chronic inflammation  
Sunlight and vitamin D
power walking
Recently, vitamin D has been reported to be an important factor that has significant health benefits in the prevention of depression. Vitamin D has a 6 week half life, so by December most of us are deficient unless practical measures are taken. Even in the shorter days it's important to get out in the light when available. Although more evidence I needed it seems very sensible to take 1000iu of vitamin D a day over the Winter.

Chronic inflammation 
Inflammation is another potential root cause of low mood. Low-grade systemic inflammation leads to the over-production of pro-inflammatory cytokines that are associated with depression and brain fog.
 Tips to reduce chronic inflammation include: 
- Stop smoking
- Lower alcohol consumption
- Improve gut health - consider probiotics
- Identify food intolerances
- Eat lots of polyphenol rich foods
- Reducing processed sugar.

Hemp and CBD oils 
There's increasing interest in the health benefits of legal CBD oil (hemp without the psychotropic THC). It has some relaxing effects and can help some people sleep. The evidence for depression is less robust and if you are going to try it, make sure you buy an organic CBD variety as a lot of plant is needed you make a call amount of oil so otherwise the levels of pesticides would be high in the oil.

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