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Ever Had the Springtime Blues? It’s a Scientific Thing

For many of us, spring is a time of setting aside old things and welcoming new ones. We put away our winter coats and pull out our spring jackets, deep clean our homes, and start getting in shape for summer. At first glance, it’s the perfect season—not too hot, not too cold, and full of new hope, as if a new chapter of life is about to begin. Why, then, do some people feel depressed and lethargic in the first months of spring? And if this sounds like you, what can you do about it?

We are all born with a unique set of chromosomes that we inherit from our parents. This is where we get, for example, our eye colour or predispositions for certain skills. Interestingly, some genes are switched on or off by certain environmental factors. Our entire biology is based on balance, which our bodies strive to maintain in the face of all internal and external influences.

Our bodies act as sensors that monitor and evaluate all the information in and around us, including our habits, our geographical location, and seasonal changes. They use this information to configure our biorhythms, which are manifested in digestion, sleep cycle, hair growth, and the production of hormones that affect how much energy we have throughout the course of the day. 

Why do some people feel depressed and lethargic in the first months of spring?

According to a survey by the Spanish Center for Phytotherapy Research, more than half of the population feels more tired in spring, lacking energy and focus. When the seasons change, so do the internal settings of our bodies. Long winters have a particularly pronounced effect. Lack of sunlight, vitamins and minerals, and lack of exercise are a great burden on the human body. 

Hormonal balance also plays a role in how we feel at any given moment. According to a scientific study by Professor Hayk S. Arakelyan, our stores of serotonin (the "happiness hormone") deplete during the winter due to a lack of natural sunlight, leaving more space for melatonin, a hormone responsible for regulating sleep cycle. 

When spring arrives, the amount of sunlight increases and our bodies respond by producing more endorphins, testosterone, and estrogen (hormones that are bodies are capable of “boosting”). This biological change can be initially exhausting.

Everyone adapts to seasonal change differently, which is why some of us get the springtime blues, while others don’t get them at all. For those who do, they usually last between 10 and 15 days. Women and allergy-sufferers are most prone, and often experience symptoms like muscle fatigue, poor appetite, sleep irregularities, impaired concentration, mood swings, loss of motivation, hypersensitivity to light, headaches, joint pain, and unexplained sadness. 

If you’ve got the springtime blues, what can you do about it? 

Take care of your mitochondria—our cellular power plants. They generate energy based on what we fuel our bodies with (glucose, lactic acid, fatty acids, or ketones). Energy is stored in mitochondria in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecules. These are where the body gets its energy for metabolic processes. Our number of mitochondria and how well they perform determine how much energy a cell is able to generate and use.

Insufficient production of energy in mitochondria is the cause of fatigue. Mitochondrial energy supports growth, healing, and other complex processes necessary for adaptation to a changing environment. Prevention is therefore the most effective way to combat fatigue. Here are some things you can do to keep your energy level up.

1. Eat a balanced diet

In order for our bodies to function optimally, mitochondria need enough vitamins, minerals and other nutrients; the most important are coenzyme Q10, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, and carnitine. Equally important, however, is that we protect ourselves against toxins and excess intake of heavy metals, which can cause oxidative stress and damage our cells.

Since we can only control what we breathe and drink (i.e. the quality of our water) to a limited extent, let us focus on what we eat. A light and varied diet is the key to combating fatigue. Mana can of course help you with that. It contains all essential vitamins and minerals in balanced proportions, and gives your body everything else it needs to function properly, in convenient and delicious form! 

Need some inspiration? See our recipe page!

2. Stay hydrated

The body of an adult is made up of 60% water, so it is no surprise that good hydration is essential for proper body function. Water facilitates metabolic processes and keeps body fluids moving, so that our lungs, liver, and kidneys can do their jobs. All bodily processes produce some kind of waste, and water keeps blood vessels open, so that the liver and kidneys can filter out this waste along with other substances.

When our bodies are deficient of water, waste is not so easily excreted. Moreover, deficiency can impair focus, athletic performance, and cause headaches. It is generally recommended that adults drink 30-45 milliliters of liquid per day per kilogram of weight. 

3. Get enough sleep 

Sleep has been shown to improve memory, regulate metabolism and reduce mental fatigue. When we sleep, our brains re-charge and remove toxins (such as amyloid plaques, which cause Alzheimer's disease) that accumulate throughout the day. For proper cognitive and behavioural function, a person needs at least 7 hours of sleep per day.

If you have trouble improving your quality of sleep, try taking magnesium supplements (we enriched our new Mark 6 recipe with a chelated form of magnesium that is more absorbable), St. John’s wort, lemon balm, or valerian. If combining medicines, be sure to talk to your doctor or pharmacist first. 

4. Sun and exercise

The sun is a natural source of vitamin D. According to an American study published in 2012, this vitamin is essential for proper functioning of the immune system, bone and tooth health, and mental performance. It additionally reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

A study conducted by University College London in 2015 also confirms that people who are more exposed to natural light are more productive and motivated to move around. Just by walking, we can improve oxygenation of the brain and blood, which improves overall regeneration, releases tension, and deepens sleep. This is an effective and most natural way to combat fatigue.

Another piece of good news is that our bodies are equipped with their own detoxification systems. If your lungs, kidneys, liver, skin, and immune system are healthy, then you have everything you need to detoxify naturally.

Everything is connected, and depends on how you take care of yourself during other seasons, so be sure to practice healthy habits year round. The cells in our bodies are constantly renewed automatically, so the best thing we can do for them is not to hinder their work. It’s never too late to start living differently—all it takes is a conscious decision.


Sources:

[1] Hayk S. Arakelyan (2019) Springtime lethargy.
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/332752060_Springtime_lethargy

[2] M. Picard, B. S. McEwen, E. S. Epel, C. Sandi (2018) An energetic view of stress: Focus on mitochondria.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091302218300062

[3] medium.com (2018) How Biorhythms change with the seasons.
https://medium.com/@brandnbodylogic/how-biorhythms-change-with-the-seasons-4e82e581a1de

[4] Beaumont Hospital Kidney Centre. The Urinary System.
http://www.beaumont.ie/kidneycentre-forpatients-aguidetokidneydisease-the

[5] D. Aggio, L. Smith, A. Fisher, M. Hamer (2015) Association of Light Exposure on Physical Activity and Sedentary Time in Young People.
https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/12/3/2941

[6] A. R. Eugene, J. Masiak (2015) The Neuroprotective Aspects of Sleep.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4651462/

[7] celostnimedicina.cz (2016) Jarní únava.
https://www.celostnimedicina.cz/jarni-unava.htm

[8] Centro de Investigación sobre Fitoterapia (2014) Más de la mitad de la población se siente más cansada con la llegada de la primavera.
http://www.infito.com/comunicacion/prensa/2014/cansancio-astenia-primaveral-jalea-real-farmacia/

[9] M. F. Holick (2012) Evidence-based D-bate on health benefits of vitamin D revisited.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3427198/

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