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Nutrition Case study: Depression, IBS, muscle and joint aches and TATT (tired all the time).

When Brenda first came to my clinic she rated her mood at an all time low of 0/10.  She had been depressed for a number of years and it had worsened after the birth of her second child.

Her joints were often stiff, especially in the morning and she felt like her muscles ached all the time. But everything, muscles aching, joint pain and fatigue were always worse on wakening. She felt tired all the time and struggled to keep her weight from rising.

There were signs of zinc deficiency; she had a wound that took months to heal properly and had a large number of stretch marks from her pregnancies. Her youngest son had been born with telipies and was a low birth weight.

Her joints were often stiff, especially in the morning and she felt like her muscles generally ached all the time. But everything, muscles aching, joint pain and fatigue were always worse on wakening.

She had been mostly vegetarian for the last 15 years as she had ‘gone off’ meat. Brenda admitted that her diet ‘wasn’t the best’ as she relied on refined carbs and sugar to get her through the day.

She had started puberty a little later than most, at 15. Her family history consisted of a sister with hypothyroid and a mother with IBS. Brenda too, struggled with digestive symptoms similar to IBS. In her wider family there was an uncle with fatty liver disease and a nephew with autism.

Brenda’s thyroid tests had come back ‘normal’, but the GP had only tested TSH which is not a reliable marker. We ran a early morning temperature test to get an idea of Brenda’s metabolic rate – it was slightly low on average. We ordered a thyroid blood spot test and found that her thyroid hormone conversion was poor and her iodine levels were low.

We used iodine, zinc, selenium, omega 3, L-tyrosine, and B vitamins initially. We also removed gluten for a trial period. Brenda’s digestive symptoms (bloating, reflux, constipation) improved significantly in the 2 weeks following removal of gluten. We used magnesium malate for quick relief from muscle aches as well as incorporating epsom salt baths.

As well as removing gluten we introduced more protein into Brenda’s diet to balance her blood sugar levels. We also included more nutrient dense foods and foods which support digestion and adrenal function.

Brenda re-introduced gluten, by accident, when eating out one evening. She describes the effect that it had on her mood the following day as ‘devastating’, she was tearful and felt an unshakable sadness. The joint aches also returned. Brenda, to this day, has not re-introduced gluten to her diet. She feels much better without it and doesn’t want to go back to eating it.

We also ran a vitamin D bloodspot test because a deficiency of this is indicated in both pain and depression. Unsurprisingly, it was low so we worked out supplement schedule to increase Brenda’s levels and keep them high over the winter months.

It became important to identify the lifestyle factors that led Brenda’s health to become compromised. We needed to rectify these in order for her new found health to become stable. We identified added fluoride as a possible trigger for the iodine deficiency. We needed to do further work to correct absorption of nutrients, a poor diet coupled with poor absorption had led to multiple nutrient deficiencies. If this wasn’t corrected any benefit Brenda had achieved would not last.

I worked with Brenda for 5 sessions and she has seen a huge turnaround in her mood, energy, her muscle aches and pains have subsided and she achieved and maintained a healthy weight. I am sharing her case, with her permission, to highlight the effect that nutrient deficiencies can have on thyroid function and how then causes a number of symptoms throughout the body. It also emphasises the impact that gluten sensitivity can have on mood too.

The Brain Food Clinic has it’s own online course to identify and rectify the imbalances of your low mood. Find out more about The Secrets to Mental Wellness.

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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