By Shannon Keirnan
During the Natural Cures Summit, one of the speakers that resonated with me was nutritionist Trudy Scott.
Her segment, entitled "Healing Mood Disorders With Food," dealt with how changing the way we eat can help us combat issues like depression and overcoming food addictions.
As someone who has dealt with depression and eating disorders in the past, I found her information very useful.
What were the highlights?
One is that sugar is especially addictive, and with its prevalence in today's market, becoming a serious issue. Sugar in the body depletes it of nutrients, and alters our blood sugar levels, which will immediately affect mood. It can also alter chemicals in the body like serotonin, or catecholamines, which, when unbalanced, lead to feelings of anxiety, stress, apathy, rage, and depression.
Secondly, we all know that gut health is also a major link to our overall well-being, emotionally and physically. Yet today we are seeing major trends in food allergies and intolerances, medical problems like leaky gut or SIBO, Celiac's, and other autoimmune disorders which mean our guts cannot properly absorb nutrients. Like many doctors and other nutritionists, Trudy recommends people with health or mood issues first try removing gluten from the diet. While not everyone is affected by gluten, 80-90% of the patients she removed from gluten thrived, and there are no ill effects to taking gluten from the diet. Often this is a beginning step toward healing the gut, even if you do not present any obvious symptoms, and putting the body back in balance.
So what other tips does Trudy suggest for improving and maintaining a positive outlook?
-Eating grass-fed red meats, which have a huge correlation to good mood. Vegans and vegetarians should make sure they are getting enough iron, zinc, B12, and omega-3's, as deficiencies in the body can negatively affect mood, or consider adding in a little humanely raised animal protein now and then (if able and willing).
-Eating real, whole foods, of course, with healthy proteins and fats - especially at breakfast - and eating food before drinking coffee (a "drug of choice"). She places an emphasis on healthy fats - too low of cholesterol can lead to depression, as cholesterol is a raw material for creating proper hormones.
-Exercise, sunshine, and natural light throughout the day. Vitamin D is especially linked to mood, and most people are deficient.
-Minimizing stress, which can worsen symptoms of mood disorders.
-Getting proper sleep in a dark, quiet room. She recommends lavender or chamomile scents before bed, or tryptophan supplements if you have difficulty sleeping.
Some of this seems pretty straightforward - we know that not being stressed, and being well-rested, puts us in a good mood, right? But it's always good to keep in mind that the body is one big system working together, and that if one aspect is off, it can throw everything out of whack. Give yourself priority!
So eat well, get some sleep, and relax this weekend! Happy Friday!