Alternatively Speaking: Healthy winter hibernation

Alternative medicine expert Natalie Marx answers your questions: What vitamins or herbs can decrease a winter appetite?

Herbal remedies 370 (photo credit:  REUTERS/Simon Newman)
Herbal remedies 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Simon Newman)
Q. Dear Natalie, I have been feeling stressed and depressed during the last few weeks, are there any foods that I can eat that can help lift my mood?A. There are indeed a variety of foods that can help fight depression, combat stress and contribute to better moods.
An ideal breakfast would be cooked oats in hot water or warm milk.
Consuming oats can actually soothe and reduce stress. The oats are full of fiber and glucose, which releases at a slow and steady rate. This can stabilize and help lift your mood, since the brain predominately functions off glucose and will help you begin your day in a calm state.
Avocados and milk also have a significant calming effect. The monounsaturated fats in avocados help the brain receive serotonin, the hormone that causes relaxation. Milk contains whey protein which works to decrease anxiety. Pineapple has an excellent effect on our mood and is rich in both manganese and thiamin. Both these compounds help the body metabolize carbohydrates helping the body burn its fuel, therefore fighting those blood sugar surges which can significantly affect mood.
One quarter of a cup of almonds daily (28-30 almonds) can significantly help uplift your mood too. Also an energy source rich in magnesium, it helps the body convert energy more efficiently. Folic acid is a wonderful nutrient that helps the brain maintain healthy levels of serotonin.
Include more whole grains, lentils and spinach into your diet since these contain high amounts of folic acid and will aid in the delivery of serotonin to the brain.
Surprisingly, chocolate can have a positive effect on the release of serotonin, however, the influence is only temporary. Try to limit the amount of chocolate in your diet, since the brief energy boost can be followed by a quick crash. Always opt for pure chocolate.
Last but certainly not least, make sure that you are drinking enough water. Water is one of the most important sources of energy for a healthy functioning body. Water fights fatigue and drinking enough water each day is crucial to an elevated mood, as dehydration can cause sluggishness, muscle cramping and fatigue.
Q. Dear Natalie, I have tried various natural diet pills to help curb my increasing appetite but none seem to work. Are there any vitamins or herbs that can help decrease my appetite? A. B Vitamins play an important part in appetite and digestion. Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin, helps reduces appetite and eliminates hunger pangs. It also improves thyroid function which increases metabolism and thereby boosts energy levels. This in turn eliminates food cravings and balances hormones.
In the book Hormonal Balance: Understanding Hormones, Weight, and Your Metabolism it proves that Vitamin B reduces oxidative stress in your body which is a common cause of excessive hunger and overeating. The daily recommended dietary allowance of Vitamin B2 is 1 milligram for adult females and 1.3 mg for adult males.
You can also try including more foods rich in Vitamin B-2 such as yogurt, spinach, almonds, broccoli, whole grains, wild rice, soybeans, milk, eggs, liver and Brussels-sprouts. Vitamin B3, also known as niacin, also has the ability to suppress appetite, supporting a healthy thyroid function. It regulates blood sugar levels, also improving metabolism and reducing food cravings. The daily recommended dietary allowance of Vitamin B3 is 14 mg for adult females and 16 mg for adult males.
Foods rich in Vitamin B3 include beets, kidneys, beef, salmon, eggs, milk, tuna and sunflower seeds. The polyphenols found in Green tea make it a powerful appetite suppressant. They work to increase the levels of certain hormones including dopamine, which depress food intake. 
The University of Chicago conducted a study and found that rats consumed up to 60 percent less food after seven days of green tea injections, and lost 21 percent of their body weight.  Omega-3 fatty acids decrease appetite and alleviate food cravings. The daily recommended dietary allowance of omega-3 fatty acids is 1,000 mg for adults. Try including foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as flax seeds, tuna,  anchovies, sardines, mackerel, soybeans, tofu and herring.
Q. Dear Natalie, what are the health benefits of eating chestnuts?
A. It is indeed that time of year to start roasting chestnuts and begin enjoying this delicious treat and all of its magnificent nutritional benefits. Chestnuts are high in Vitamin C, potassium, copper and magnesium, amino acids and antioxidants. In comparison to other nuts, chestnuts are also low in kidney stone-forming oxalate compounds, with less than 85 mg per 100 g. The fiber level in chestnuts makes them a low gylcemic index food which raises blood sugar slowly. Chestnuts contain high levels of essential fatty acids, including linoleic acid, which are beneficial to cardiovascular health and proper neurological development especially in children. This column is brought to you as general information only and unless stated otherwise is not medical advice nor is it based on medical experiments. This column is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. For more information about specific problems, please contact a doctor.Natalie runs a clinic both in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem offering a wide range of natural treatment, including a women’s clinic every Wednesday. To make an appointment please email
Ask Natalie: If you have a health query and would like an alternative answer, email Natalie with your question at nateopath@gmail.comSomeone Once Said: "The physician should not treat the disease but the patient who is suffering from it." - Maimonides