We all battle different levels of depression from time to time…perhaps a let down in a job situation, a death in the family or post-pregnancy.  We all know someone we care about that battles with more serious depression.  Once again we are talking about a health issue that could be improved, decreased or eliminated by improving our nutrient, our digestion and our WHOLE self.  Sadly, most people in our society are trained to go see their doctor when they don’t feel well physically or mentally.  The solution for most all health problems – fix it with medication or pharmaceutical drugs.  Drug therapy may help temporarily but does it really help figure out what the ROOT cause is of the problem and WHY we are experiencing symptoms?  No.

Mental health includes depression, anxiety and attention deficit disorder (ADHD).  We all have challenges we face everyday but some people can tolerate the stress and demands of daily life more than others- this could be partially related to our genetic make up but also our nutritional status.  Our lifestyle habits as in The WHOLESTIC Method eight elements impact our mental health – if we over eat sugar, over consume caffeine or alcohol then we are going to impact our brain health.  Then if we don’t keep ourselves hydrated (remember to drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day or more!), exercise regularly (include 2-3 x strength training and 2-3 outdoor walking/hiking/running/playing), eating whole nutrient dense food and properly digesting our food then we are going to have more problems.  Other treatments may include acupuncture, hypnotherapy, detox infrared saunas, massage as well as a whole food nutrient dense diet!  

A “happy pill” from the doctor to help with depression, anxiety and ADHD doesn’t always help and isn’t always the answer but it may be the quick and easy solution for most people as transforming the WHOLE you with The WHOLESTIC Method takes commitment, patience and motivation.  If you are on medication, please do not stop taking it – instead talk to your doctor about suggestions and perhaps weaning off the drug.  I am not a doctor so I am only sharing what I read and learn from Nutritional Therapy- as well as my own observations from 25 years as a personal trainer!

Did you know that food allergies and over consumption of refined sugars leading to hypoglycemia could aggravate the feelings of depression, mood swings, anxiety and more mental health disturbances?  Our bodies rely on proper hydration and nutrition to operate- without it we are nothing…actually we would be dead!

We need to identify and treat the following area in order to get off the mental health psychological roller coaster and find a more stable road in life to follow:

  • food allergies
  • vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • eliminate refined sugars
  • eliminate caffeine
  • stabilize blood sugar levels
  • eliminate alcohol addictions

 

We need neurotransmitters to act as chemical messengers.

A Neurotransmitter: A chemical that is released from a nerve cell which thereby transmits an impulse from a nerve cell to another nerve, muscle, organ, or other tissue. A neurotransmitter is a messenger of neurologic information from one cell to another. –www.medicinenet.com › home › medterms medical dictionary az list

We have five neurotransmitters in the brain…the chemistry of our emotions:  and they each have nutritional precursors needed to be functioning at the optimal level needed for our mental health and well-being.  Vitamin B-6 seems to be the most important vitamin to make sure we are not deficient in for mental health.  Stay away from caffeine especially when low dopamine levels as our receptor sites will be interfered.  The five neurotransmitters involved in our chemistry of our emotions:
1. Gaba
2. Serotonin
3. Norepinephrine
4. Endorphin
5. Dopamine

Why is adequate digestion is key to maintaining optimal levels of mental wellness??  We need to eat quality protein as well as able to properly digest the protein to cleave off the amino acids needed for neurotransmitter and hormone production.  Do you feel depressed?  Loss of control over eating, gambling, computer games, technology, drinking ….?  You may be deficient in neurotransmitter production – likely due to eating and drinking the wrong foods and dysfunctional digestion process!  Digestion is a north to south process… and a parasympathetic nervous system function.  Are we eating foods that cause an allergic reaction in our body? Is our gut lining inflammed?  Brain inflammation?

Start with correcting vitamin and mineral difficiencies, making dietary changes, stabilize blood sugar, eating essential fatty acids, hydrating and finding what moves your soul in life!

But we need to digest our food properly even if we are selecting nutrient dense whole foods.

How can we improve our mental health with proper digestion?

  • If we can’t relax and be in the “rest and digest” nervous system when we eat then we are going to be having digestion problems since we would be shutting off our digestion process when we are the sympathetic dominance mindset.
  • We need to have the appropriate stomach acid (pH 1.5 – 3) in order to break down our proteins that give us our amino acids that are needed for building our neurotransmitters in our brain.
  • We need our nutrient dense diet to get our necessary precursors for our neurotransmitters – our brain chemicals needed for our mood and emotions.
  • The liver and gallbladder needs to have open detox elimination pathways to remove toxins
  • The gut health is vital- as it is the primary site to produce serotonin
  • If we have gut inflammation or leaky gut from eating foods that have become food allergens
  • We need proper gut flora in our large intestines/colon in order to produce vitamin b1, b2, b12, Vitamin K and Butyric Acid so if we are not digesting/breaking down our food properly then when the leftover food (chyme) enters the colon fermented, putrified and rancidfied then we won’t be able to feed the gut flora so it can produce the energizing B12 vitamins.
  • We need sufficient co-factors as B6 and Zinc to digest proteins (amino acids to neurotransmitters)
  • If we eat excessive amounts of sugar we then can deplete the micronutrients that are needed (co-factors) to make healthy neurotransmitters.
  • We need to eat healthy essential fats but be able to digest them properly as fat is the main ingredient in the brain and needed to help the proteins bind in neurotransmitter production.
  • Minerals are needed to keep in balance- and important to mental health.  Drinking bone broth (available now at Fitness Forward Studio) daily will help provide the needed minerals and more.
  • We need to drink enough water as dehyration is critical to transporting our neurotransmitters around our body.  Our tissues need to be hydrated!

Once last item to briefly review- as this is so important and is an entire podcast and another blog topic. Good nutrition is key to mental health but provides energy for your body and mind!  We need to avoid foods that cause allergic reactions in our body.

FOOD ALLERGIES impact your brain health!  Try to avoid common food allergens and even get a food sensitivity test (link coming soon to Athletes Blood Test) or take your pulse before then after eating to avoid creating a histamine reaction to foods.  The problem starts when we eat foods too often or inappropriately digest the food (chew your food and slow down when eating!) then we have an inappropriate response in our body causing a variety of inflammatory type of reactions.  The body is designed to fight off foreign substances – and be able to identify self and non-self then produce anti-bodies to protect us.  When we have too many types of stressors- well we could go on but another day.  LIFE IS NOT A RACE.

Start improving your mental health by slowing down, pausing and pushing reset each day.  Re-charge yourself with proper nutritious foods, getting outside to play, exercise, avoid chemicals as caffeine and alcohol, walk outside, go to be earlier (meditate before) and be with people who make you laugh! Take the challenge…start to eliminate refined sugar, refined flour, wheat, corn, cows milk, food chemicals, caffeine and alcohol for at least 21 days to see how you feel – physically and mentally!  See our next The WHOLESTIC Method 5-Day and 21-Day Challenge to help break these food habits and improve your mental health from the inside out.

Your WHOLESTIC Method Coach,

Debbie Potts

Learn more on my podcast – a new episode every Tuesday!