Can Nutrition Help With Low Mood?
We know that the quality of our diet can affect the way we feel physically, what many neglect tor realise is that the brain is not an island. The very same things that affect our physical health can affect our mood too. There are many different causes of low mood that can be addressed using a functional nutrition programme. Recent studies have indicated a link between depression and inflammation, lowering inflammatory factors in your diet and lifestyle can help with this. Other factors to consider deficiencies of the nutrients that contribute to the building of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Or the essential fatty acids that affect neurotransmitter signalling. Vitamin D deficiency has also been implicated in the development of depression and it is understood that this can contribute to the development of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Vitamin D levels are usually at their lowest when this disorder presents itself.
There are sometimes more complex reasons for the development of chronic low mood. These can include a subclinical or undiagnosed thyroids disorder. NHS thyroid tests are often not sensitive enough to detect thyroid issues in many people who display strong symptoms of the disorder. Other reasons include the presence of pyroluria ( a metabolic tendency to excrete higher levels of zinc and B6) which can lead to low mood, anxiety, addictions and eating disorders amongst other conditions. Sometimes low adrenal function can leave someone feeling exhausted and depressed and support in this area through diet and lifestyle changes are required.
MTHFR is a gene variation which is common in the general population. This variant can affect how well we perform the chemical process of methylation. Sometimes this can lead to mood disorders, especially when B12 uptake is affected. Sometimes this is overlooked as a problem as blood tests can reveal a high B12 level. However, this can indicate that B12 is not being taken up and utilised by the cells.
Our mood is also influenced by our gut flora, the presence of candida, other yeasts or less beneficial bacteria can create inflammation and general dysfunction. The long term aim of any nutritional programme is to improve gut flora.
‘Leaky gut’ can also impact on our mental well being. If the gut lining is permeable, we can develop food intolerances which can affect how we think and feel. Identifying problem foods is a key part of recovery. Regularly consuming foods your are reacting will challenge your immune system, adrenal health – creating inflammation, hormonal and other issues. Some people lack a specific enzyme which helps to break down gluten and casein protein, these people are more likely to develop ‘leaky gut’. Digestion and absorption can be really important factors in our health. If they are not working efficiently nutrient deficiencies can develop despite having a healthy diet. Rectifying digestive issues is key to restoring good mental health over the long term.