The January Blues Diet: What To Eat And Why
Most of us are feeling sluggish and flat after weeks of eating rich food, sugar-packed food and lot's of alcohol over the holiday.
Put a spring back into your step and fight the post-festive fatigue with these energy-boosting, revitalising foods.
Foods That Affect Your Mood
Cherry Juice: Helps You Sleep
Forget the cocoa - if you want a restful night's sleep, it's cherry juice you should be drinking. According to the <a href="http://www.northumbria.ac.uk/sd/academic/lifesciences/" target="_hplink">School of Life Sciences at Northumbria University</a>, the key to a quality night's sleep lies with drinking a glass of Montmorency cherry juice, as it regulates the levels of melatonin in the body which controls our sleep patterns. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/02/cherry-juice-helps-you-sleep-longer_n_1070992.html " target="_hplink"><strong>Read the full story on how cherry juice sends you to sleep</strong></a>.
Chocolate: Keeps Headaches Away
New research by the <a href="http://www.dife.de/en/" target="_hplink">German Institute of Human Nutrition</a> shows that regularly consuming as little as a square of dark chocolate a day helps to reduce your blood pressure and thus your chance of suffering from heart disease, strokes, headaches and migraines. Scientists have found that people eating just 7.5 grams of chocolate daily were at a 39% lower risk of having any of the above compared to those who ate just 1.7 grams. Migraines are caused by blood vessel enlargement and the release of chemicals from nerve fibers that coil around these blood vessels, but small amounts of dark chocolate helps maintain a healthy blood flow around the body and brain. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/10/21/five-bad-things-that-ican_n_1024068.html" target="_hplink"><strong>Find out which other 'bad' foods can sometimes good for you</strong></a>.
According to e new study by the University of Cambridge, it isn't sugar you need to energise you from your afternoon slump, but protein instead. Contrary to common belief, reaching for protein-rich foods is more beneficial to your energy levels than a sugar-packed snack, as researchers found that orexin cells in the brain which regulate energy balance, wakefulness and reward are more stimulated with amino acids from protein. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/22/eating-protein-instead-of-sugar-keeps-you-awake_n_1107273.html" target="_hplink"><strong>Discover which protein snacks are best for energy-boosting</strong></a>.
Avocado: Boosts Alertness
If you're struggling to get motivated, reach for an avocado. It is true that the avocado is a fatty fruit, but it's a monounsaturated fat, which contributes to healthy blood flow and healthy blood flow equates to a healthier, more alert brain. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/11/16/brain-boosting-foods-that-increase-concentration_n_1096824.html?ref=ukdiet-and-nutrition" target="_hplink"><strong>Find out which other foods are great brain-boosters</strong></a>.
Dried Figs: Revives Sluggish Digestion
Every now and again, our digestive system slows down and makes us feel sluggish as a result of junk food. Perk it up with a handful of dried figs, as they tally up an impressive 10g of fibre - essential for a healthy, fatigue-free gut. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/12/29/banish-that-post-christmas-bloat-high-fibre-foods_n_1174063.html" target="_hplink"><strong>Find out which other foods are packed with digestive-friendly fibre</strong></a>.
Oily Fish: Boosts Your Memory
The essential omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish like sardines, herring, trout and mackerel, as well as walnut oil and flaxseeds (linseeds) - are high in Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a fatty acid crucial to maintaining a healthy nervous system. Low DHA levels have been linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and memory loss. Fish also contains iodine, which is known to improve mental clarity.
Soup: Aids Concentration
We all know the 8 to 10 glasses of water a day rule, but not many of us obey it. If you drink more H20, you'll be 'watering' your brain with much-needed liquids which stave off dehydration and aids concentration. Soups are predominately water-based, so in the winter months, use this as an excuse to eat lots of hearty soups and stews. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/10/26/drinking-less-water-linked-to-high-blood-sugar-level_n_1032470.html#s434405&title=Stock_Up_On" target="_hplink"><strong>Find out other clever ways to incorporate water into your diet and how it can help reduce blood sugar levels too</strong></a>.
Wholemeal Pasta: Keeps Anger Away
According to researchers at<a href="http://www.cam.ac.uk/" target="_hplink"> Cambridge University</a>, when the body starts to feel hungry, levels of the brain chemical serotonin, dip, causing a whirlwind of uncontrollable anger. This is why it's important to keep the serotonin levels balanced by eating wholesome, filling foods regularly. Foods like pasta have a high satiety value, meaning they fill you up quicker and for longer. They're also relatively low in energy density, which means they contain few calories compared with how filling they are. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/09/19/why-being-hungry-makes-you-angry_n_969631.html" target="_hplink"><strong>Find out which other foods keep you feeling full (not angry)</strong></a>.