When I was living in London anxiety and depression were the main issues people seemed to be experiencing with signage on the tube pointing to St John’s Wort as the new “kid on the block” to support mood.
Now lets be honest, living and commuting in London with the weather the way it was would probably give anyone anxiety and depression, but one thing to also note was the English diet was TERRIBLE.. Everyone lived on processed food, hot chips, crisps with their white bread sandwich lunch and given you could smoke anywhere most of them did.
So what’s happening here in Australia, 90% of people you speak to are taking some sort of anti-depressant or are suffering from anxiety… with everything we’re learning about how gut health and diet affects mental health why is this happening and what are some things we can do to help ourselves.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Our B vitamins are so essential to our daily health and metabolic functions with B1 being involved in almost every cellular reaction in the body including energy production, carbohydrate and fatty acid metabolism as well as for nerve function. A deficiency will often present with reduced stamina, depression, irritability, poor concentration, fatigue and muscle cramps. Good sources include pork, brown rice, sunflower seeds, oats, whole grains and brewers yeast.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Involved in the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, GABA, dopamine and noradrenaline it supports the regulation of mental function and mood. A deficiency will cause irritability, weakness, drowsiness, depression and poor appetite. Good sources include chicken, fish, red meat, liver, kidney, legumes, nuts, seeds and avocados.
Folate (folic acid)
Supports the production of mood regulating neurotransmitters those that regulate sleep and appetite. A deficiency in this area can result in irritability, forgetfulness, hostility as well as possibly triggering depression. Good sources include dark green leafy vegetables, legumes, green vegetables, oranges, avocado and whole grains.
Vitamin B12 (Cyano-cobalamin)
Converts amino acids to serotonin and norepinephrine as well as supporting your body in the production of SAM-e which is required for neurotransmitter production and function. Deficiency can cause a deterioration in mental function along with neurological damage and psychological disturbances such as memory loss, disorientation, dementia, mood swings, confusion and delusions. Good sources include oysters, tuna, milk and eggs.
Amino acids such as Tryptophan are used to treat insomnia, depression, anxiety and panic attacks whilst phenylalanine is used to treat depression, headaches and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Good sources include oats, eggs, chicken, cheese, fish, turkey, beans, bananas and pumpkin seeds.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Essential for normal nerve impulse transmission and brain health with high concentrations being shown to improve major improvements in mood. Good sources include salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, tuna, walnuts and flaxseeds.
Crucial for the synthesis of serotonin it’s often lacking in those with depression and given the multitude of sins that can be supported by Magnesium and our tendency to be deficient it’s definitely one to put on the list. Good sources include green vegetables, whole grains, bran, nuts, and soy products (non GM).
Additionally if you are suffering from depression then it’s also important to get rid of the sugar, eat low GI foods, only have good fats (get rid of the trans fats) and get rid of processed foods. Your diet should be full of clean whole foods, even this alone can make the world of difference.
The one thing to note of course is that if you are reading this and currently taking medication to support your mental health or any genetic conditions such as MTHFR is present consult with your health professional before supplementing as they may interact with current medication or be the wrong form of the supplement for your requirements.
Until next time, stay calm and stay healthy.