Winter Wellness Guide
Eat dark chocolate.
As October progresses, many women start to feel moody and depressed and experience intensified PMS. Craving for chocolate goes through the roof. Make sure to have high-quality dark chocolate available; 90 percent cocoa is too much, but 70 percent should be about right. Seasonal affective disorder is closely linked with PMS being worse during the winter, so borrowed light from windows and skylights in your home and office can make a powerful difference.
--Christiane Northrup, M.D., Natural Health advisor and author of Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom
At least 30 minutes exposure daily to natural light outdoors, in addition to using a light box indoors, helps combat seasonal affective disorder. Natural light seems to have certain ingredients that just can't be duplicated by an indoor light box. A common problem for people with seasonal affective disorder is serotonin deficiency. St. John's wort (600 to 900 mg per day), 5-HTP (50 to 200 mg per day), or SAM-e (400 to 1,200 mg per day in enteric-coated tablets) can be quite helpful in raising serotonin levels.
--Ed Bourne, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Natural Relief for Anxiety
Eat your vitamins.
I like to use fresh thyme and rosemary in my cooking during the winter. Thyme is an antiseptic and a digestive aid, while rosemary promotes circulation.
I make sure to eat fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants, including clementines, kiwi, oranges, dark-green vegetables, peppers, escarole, spinach, and broccoli. I add roasted red peppers to sandwiches and salads, too.
I also have 1 tablespoon of flaxmeal a day, usually in cereal or yogurt in the morning. This assures that I'm getting a good balance of omega-3 fats, which help boost the immune system. --Gayle Reichler, R.D., dietitian and author of Gayle's Feel-Good Foods
Drink a warming ginger tea.
Ginger boosts the immune system, clears the lungs, aids digestion, and tastes yummy. One of my favorite things in the winter is a homemade brew: Mix 1 tablespoon fresh-grated organic gingerroot, 1 teaspoon fresh organic lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon honey in a 12- to 16-ounce cup of very hot, purified water, and let steep for five to 10 minutes before drinking. The honey, if locally farmed and pesticide-free, is also stimulating to the immune system.
--Ginger Nash, N.D., naturopathic doctor and board member of the Connecticut Naturopathic Physicians Association