Low moods, anxiety, lack of motivation, inability to focus and general brain fog can really impact well-being and a common solution for this seems to be being prescribed antidepressants. However, many people I work with don’t want to go down this route in order to get back to being the happy, hold-it-together person they once were.
Sub-optimal mood can be driven by a multitude of different factors and, even if someone’s symptoms present the same as another person, they can actually have very different root causes.
My personalised one-to-one programmes aim to thoroughly investigate a client’s symptoms and health history to help identify and rectify any biochemical imbalances which may be contributing to anxious or depressive symptoms. Investigating underlying contributing factors of depression and anxiety is frequently beyond the scope of mainstream healthcare, and I always aim to leave no stone unturned in my quest to help clients feel better! Here are some of my recommendations that you can try at home.
Although there are many possibilities, needing to rebalance body systems is a common presentation I see in my clinic and they can broadly fit into the following three categories – hormones, gut health & inflammation.
Hormones & Mood
You have the potential to control your hormones through what you eat! (this used to blow my mind before my nutrition training!
From sex hormones, such as oestrogen and testosterone, to stress and thyroid hormones, unidentified hormone imbalances can have a profound effect on mood. For instance, oestrogen, testosterone, and thyroid hormones are involved in regulating the function of the mood-regulating neurotransmitter serotonin and I frequently test my clients’ levels as part of my programmes.
Blood sugar balance
One way that you can really help your overall hormone balance at home is to limit sugary foods such as biscuits, cakes, white bread and pasta. Regularly eating these types of foods can have a detrimental effect on your hormones and mood.
Sugar & anxiety
This is because sugary foods are very easily digested by your body, causing a spike in your blood sugar (glucose) level and an elevated release of the hormone insulin, which is required to transport the glucose out of your blood and into your cells. However, an elevated insulin release causes the glucose to leave your blood too rapidly, leaving you with symptoms of low blood sugar.
Glucose is the primary fuel of your brain and it requires a steady supply to function correctly. Therefore, by consuming frequent sugary foods, you are creating spikes and dips in your blood sugar which are deemed stressful for the brain and can trigger anxious episodes.
Sugar & depression
It is often thought that people eat sugary, comforting foods because they are depressed, but it has more recently been demonstrated that eating such foods over time can directly trigger depression in its own right.
My top tips:
Swap white bread and pasta for wholegrain varieties and avoid regularly eating cakes and biscuits.
Choose a piece of fresh fruit or a small square of quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) if you fancy something sweet.
Avoid low-fat processed products, such as yoghurts – these often have more sugar to compensate on taste.
If you don’t have high blood pressure, liquorice and peppermint tea tastes very sweet and is an effective choice for curbing a sweet tooth after a meal.
Gut health & Mood
The health of your digestive tract has a direct impact on your mood and I often conduct comprehensive gut health tests on clients as part of my one-to-one programmes. Numerous studies have linked an imbalanced gut bacteria population (dysbiosis) with poor mood, so it, therefore, makes sense to promote good levels of friendly gut bacteria and minimise opportunities for more harmful species to proliferate and cause problems.
My top tips:
Along with a plentiful supply of fresh vegetables and fruit, always choose wholegrain varieties of bread, pasta, and rice. Friendly bacteria love them!
Ensure that you chew your food slowly and thoroughly to aid sufficient stomach acid production and proper digestion.
Try to eat fermented foods a couple of times a week, such as live yoghurt, kimchi, kefir and miso, a couple of times a week. These foods all contain friendly bacteria.
Inflammation & Mood
Inflammation occurs invisibly inside your body’s cells, as well as externally, and is a normal stage of your immune system defence, which should resolve once your immune cells have done their job. However, unresolved inflammation is problematic and has been associated with greatly increasing the risk of depression and anxious episodes. I frequently test my clients for inflammatory markers as part of my one-to-one programmes and spend time addressing this important immune function.
My top tips:
Diet and lifestyle choices can have a big impact on your inflammation levels, including all my tips so far. Check out my other blog on nourishing your body
Get in tune with your body – does eating certain foods cause you symptoms such as a runny nose, itchy eyes or digestive issues? You might have an intolerance (this is actually very common) and this can make your immune system work in overdrive, creating unwanted inflammation. Common culprits are dairy and wheat.
Avoid cooking foods at high temperatures, such as frying and opt for braising, steaming, or baking foods instead.
Eat an abundance of colourful vegetables daily and Introduce herbs and spices, such as ginger, garlic and turmeric to your diet.
Keep hydrated – aim for 2 litres of water a day to flush out toxins and help your liver. I recommend avoiding drinking water direct from the tap where possible and opt for a water filter. (A Brita jug will do the trick just fine)
Consider selecting natural cleaning and personal care products, scented products,
Feeling happier & healthier is within your reach, if you would like some one-to-one help book your free Mini-Health Review with me here