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Can nutrition really make a difference to our feelings and mood?

Is there a connection between our mood and the food we eat? Absolutely! Eating the wrong foods can make you more prone to depression, low mood, anxiety and less ability to cope. This is because the wrong diet can lead to dysfunction in the areas of the body that work hard to keep us mentally-well.

What is nutritional medicine?

Nutrition practitioners work with you to identify the cause of your symptoms and then help you implement the right diet and supplement protocol for you. Nutritional therapy takes time and commitment but it is the only real solution to being mentally and physically healthy long-term.

Some key imbalances that affect your mood are sub-clinical thyroid disorders, adrenal fatigue, fatty acid and blood sugar issues, nutrient deficiencies, digestive issues and food intolerances including gluten sensitivity. I’ll outline some briefly here.

Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is a common problem in today’s rushed world where we never seem to switch off. If this fast-pace is paired with a less than optimal biochemistry it can lead to fatigue, low mood and an inability to cope. Often there are underlying issues such as latent viruses, food sensitivities or thyroid issues that add to this condition.

Thyroid Problems

Thyroid issues are also common, but many people who think they have the symptoms – fatigue, lack of concentration, problems losing weight will find that standard NHS blood tests come back ‘normal’. Their GP will tell them that they are fine – when they are obviously not. Many cases of thyroid problems are not being identified because the test for TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone)  is not representative of thyroid function overall. I monitor temperature and symptoms to get a more accurate picture.

Vitamin D deficiency

Another major problem during the darker months is vitamin D deficiency. It plays a major role in keeping inflammation in check and so a deficiency can lead to chronic inflammation, which not only means aches and pains but can also be a factor in depression. Ask your GP to check your levels as so many people are low at this time of year. I suspect it is a major factor in the development of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Blood sugar issues

Blood sugar imbalances are one of the commonest problems affecting our mood on a day to day basis. We experience dips in mood and irritability if we skip a meal or don’t get our caffeine fix. These are signs that your blood sugar needs some support. When the problem becomes chronic we can find ourselves in the vicious cycle of comfort eating in the evening and relying on sugar and caffeine to get through the day. The great news is it is easy to support with some simple changes to your diet. Begin with making sure you eat regular meals, add protein to each meal and snack.  

Author: Sarah Hanratty

Sarah is a specialist practitioner at the Brain Food Clinic. She has a degree in Nutritional Medicine and is a certified Gut and Psychology Syndrome Practitioner. Sarah helps people to overcome physical and mental health issues using bespoke nutritional protocols.

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