5. Don’t let yourself get too hungry. When your blood sugar nose-dives — a natural response to going more than a few hours without food — you can feel jittery, fatigued, short on patience, even angry. Do yourself, your family and your coworkers a favor and eat regular meals, either four to six mini meals a day or three proportioned meals with two healthy snacks.
6. Boost your mood with omega-3s. In several small studies, low intake of the omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) has been associated with depression and mood disorders. Since our bodies don’t manufacture omega-3s, we need to get them from our diets. The American Psychiatric Association recommends all healthy adults eat three ounces of omega-3-rich fish at least two times a week. One of the best sources of DHA comes from wild salmon. Sardines, cod, haddock, tuna and halibut also contain omega-s. Michael F. Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer of the Cleveland Clinic and co-author of the best-selling "YOU" series, says to aim even higher and try to eat 13 ounces of DHA-rich fish per week. If you’re not eating 13 ounces of fish per week, you’ll want to take a supplement, says Dr. Roizen. If you eat at least six ounces of DHA-rich fish per week, then tack on a daily 300 mg of DHA or one gram of fish oil. You’ll want a 600 mg supplement of DHA per day or two grams of omega-3 fish oil if you’re not eating any fish at all.
Just be aware: Fish oil supplements can cause stomach upset and bloating. Omega-3s can also interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners and high blood pressure drugs, and in high amounts (more than three grams daily) cause bleeding. So be sure to check with your doctor if you’re on these medications or taking large doses.
Other options: flaxseed, canola oil, walnuts. They’re all rich in the omega-3 alpha linolenic acid (ALA), but you don’t get quite the same brain benefit as you do from DHA-rich fish. Still, it’s better than not getting any. DHA-fortified foods, such as milk, yogurt, cheeses and even tortillas, are another option. Finally, vegans can get DHA by taking a 200 mg algae-based supplement every day.
7. Don’t forget your vitamin D. Turns out that a lot of Americans (adults and children) simply aren’t getting enough vitamin D. A lack of vitamin D has been associated with depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder (as well as immune deficiency, cancer and multiple sclerosis). Sunlight exposure and fortified foods are the main ways we get vitamin D. But thanks to our regular use of sunscreens (which blocks absorption of vitamin D), more time spent indoors and too few vitamin D–rich foods, we’re deficient. Look for ways to incorporate more vitamin D into your diet (salmon and fortified milk are two great sources). And read up on dosing requirements, which differ depending on your age.
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