A Little Haven of Tranquility !
October 20, 2020
Mindful Eating
February 14, 2021

Nutritional Healing for Low Mood!

The recent lockdowns are testing even the jolliest of personality. Seemingly everyone I speak to at the moment is struggling, low and feeling fed up, myself included. As human beings we desire human contact, to observe facial expression and connection to others both physically and mentally. Mask wearing, social distancing and lockdowns are compromising everything we need to function optimally.

The amount of prescriptions for antidepressants has soared since the start of the ‘pandemic’. These medicines come with their own problems. Side effects issues range from: insomnia, increased anxiety, painful periods and impotence.

Healing through nutrition may provide an alternative to such medication. Over the last few years, nutritional medicine has been researching the links between mental and physical health and discovering that depression occurs more frequently in those with compromised immunity.

The gut hosts the largest collection of neural tissue in the body (after the brain) and is lined with 100 million nerve cells – this is called the ENTERIC NERVOUS SYSTEM. The mucosal tissues in our gut are said to be intrinsically linked to our immune system. Failure to develop a fully functioning mucosal immune system for example: frequent antibiotic exposure in childhood, may offer explanation for susceptibility to depressive disorders.

The gut-brain link is well documented and communication between the brain and immune system occurs via messenger cells called: CYTOKINES. Anti-inflammatory cytokines are produced in the gut and colon, so if gut health is compromised, pro-inflammatory cytokines (that increase inflammation) are raised causing lack of energy, sleep problems, altered mood and general apathy. Depressive disorders develop when there is are not enough anti-inflammatory cytokines produced to address the imbalance.

B vitamins are essential for energy production and normal function of the nervous system. Good food sources of B vitamins include: eggs, beans, lentils, wholegrains, a vast range of vegetables, fish and meat.

When stressed magnesium (mg) is used up quickly. Most of us are already magnesium deficient due to the way that food crops are over farmed. The amount of magnesium contained in the head of 1 broccoli 40 years ago would equate to at least 10 heads of broccoli today. Mg is essential for energy and the production of the neurotransmitters serotonin (the happiness hormone) and dopamine (the feel good hormone). Foods rich in magnesium include: nuts/seeds, cruciferous greens (kale etc) fish and seafood. Taking a mg supplement at night may aid sleep.

Clients following an anti-inflammatory and gut health dietary programme have shown remarkable benefits regarding mood. Improving gut health by promoting ‘good’ bacteria will encourage the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines, reduce inflammation and improve brain function.

FOOD TO KEEP THE GUT AND MIND HAPPY

  • Eggs – rich in zinc and tryptophan to boost serotonin
  • Salmon – healthy fatty acids to support prostaglandin production, supporting hormones
  • Avocados – full of healthy omega 3’s improving brain function, vision and supporting cardiovascular health
  • Quinoa – protein rich and laden with magnesium and b vitamins
  • Lean proteins (organic where possible) – fish/chicken providing amino acids, needed as the building blocks of neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine.
  • Fermented foods – kimchi, sauerkraut, fefir have an inflammatory effect on the gut.
  • Spices – ginger, cinnamon and turmeric are rich in polyphenols and promote the growth of healthy bacteria