Monsoon Blues Getting You Down? Try These 10 Foods
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When most Indians encounter the first monsoon shower, it is inevitably a time to rejoice and be elated—after all, the scorching heat of summer is finally done with! But as the rainy season progresses, most people encounter not joy but something called the monsoon blues. Low mood, sadness, lethargy, unease—these are just some of the symptoms that people experiencing monsoon blues go through. The reason? Heavy rainfall, overcast skies, high humidity and news of floods, landslides and other features of Indian monsoon. 

But these aren’t the only reasons behind monsoon blues that Indians experience. While not an official medical diagnosis, monsoon blues are often associated with a mental health issue called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that occurs at specific times of the year, typically during the fall and winter months. The lack of sunlight during the monsoon season can contribute to the development of monsoon blues. Sunlight exposure plays a crucial role in the synthesis of vitamin D in our bodies. 

Vitamin D is essential for various physiological processes, including the regulation of mood and the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood, sleep, and appetite. Reduced exposure to sunlight during the monsoon season can lead to lower vitamin D levels, which, in turn, may contribute to feelings of sadness or depression. 

Moreover, during the monsoon season, people may be more likely to stay indoors and limit their outdoor activities due to the heavy rainfall and gloomy weather. This confinement at home can lead to a lack of physical activity, social isolation, and a disruption in daily routines, all of which can have a negative impact on mental health and exacerbate feelings of sadness and lethargy. 

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To counter the effects of monsoon blues and the lack of vitamin D, there are several strategies that you could use. Indoor exercising, taking vitamin D supplements (under the guidance of a doctor or nutritionist, of course), maintaining social connections and engaging in fun indoor hobbies can all boost your mental wellbeing when you are down with the monsoon blues. What else helps is changing your diet to make it more monsoon and vitamin D friendly. 

Here are 10 amazing foods that will help you counter monsoon blues. 

1. Fatty Fish  

Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and even the monsoon-special Hilsa, are excellent sources of vitamin D, which is essential for bone health, immune function, and overall well-being. Salmon, mackerel, and sardines are particularly rich in this vitamin. These fish also provide omega-3 fatty acids, which have heart-protective properties. Including grilled, baked, or pan-seared fish in your meals can be a tasty way to boost your vitamin D intake. 

2. Cod Liver Oil 

Cod liver oil is extracted from the livers of codfish and is one of the best natural sources of vitamin D. It is available as a dietary supplement in liquid or capsule form. A teaspoon or a capsule of cod liver oil can provide a significant amount of vitamin D, as well as vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids. 

3. Eggs 

Eggs are versatile and nutrient-dense, especially when it comes to the egg yolk. The yolk contains vitamin D, along with other essential nutrients like protein, choline, and antioxidants. Including eggs in your diet can be as simple as making omelets, scrambled eggs, or boiled eggs. 

4. Mushrooms  

Certain varieties of mushrooms, such as shiitake and maitake, have the ability to synthesize vitamin D when exposed to sunlight or UV light. These mushrooms are low in calories and add a rich umami flavor to various dishes. You can use them in stir-fries, soups, or sauté them as a side dish.

5. Fortified Dairy Products  

Fortified dairy products are regular dairy items to which vitamin D has been added. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are excellent sources of calcium and other essential nutrients. Fortified dairy can help ensure you meet your vitamin D needs, especially for individuals who may have limited sun exposure. 

6. Paneer  

Paneer is a popular dairy-based ingredient in Indian cuisine and is very easily available. While it may not be a significant source of vitamin D, it provides protein, calcium, and other nutrients. Paneer can be used in various dishes like curries, tikka, or paneer bhurji. 

7. Soy Products  

Tofu and soy milk are plant-based sources of protein and are often fortified with vitamin D. They are suitable alternatives for vegetarians and vegans and can be used in curries, stir-fries, and smoothies. 

8. Fortified Cereals 

Some breakfast cereals in India are fortified with vitamin D. These cereals are usually made from whole grains and can provide a convenient way to increase your vitamin D intake, especially when paired with fortified milk or yogurt. 

9. Ghee  

Ghee is a type of clarified butter commonly used in Indian cooking. While it doesn't contain vitamin D, it can enhance the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamin D, from other foods. Ghee also adds a rich and nutty flavor to Indian dishes. 

10. Shrimp 

Shrimp is another seafood option that provides some vitamin D. Although not as high in vitamin D as fatty fish, it can still contribute to your overall intake. Shrimp is a versatile ingredient and can be used in curries, stir-fries, or grilled as a flavorful appetizer.