Mental health and nutrition
As a clinical nutritionist, I regularly work with clients with mood imbalances and understand the impact that this can have on an individual's quality of life.
What I wanted to explain today is how our nutrient status plays a crucial role in mental health as neurotransmitters, also known as "happy hormones," are affected by what we eat.
The most commonly known neurotransmitters are Serotonin, dopamine and GABA. Low levels of these can all contribute to mood imbalances.
People with low serotonin may feel very flat, suffer from depression, lack enjoyment of life, and experience a low mood. Low dopamine can lead to apathy, lack of interest, low motivation, and addictive behaviours. Low GABA can cause individuals to feel uptight, anxious, overwhelmed, and they may experience an overactive mind. I talk more in depth about these symptoms in the video below.
It's essential to have enough protein in the diet to support the production of these neurotransmitters. The amount of protein that you need on a daily basis is often more than you realise. For vegetarians and vegans, it's crucial to consume a wide range of plant proteins each day to get the full range of essential amino acids needed for mood balance.
Sugar is another factor that can contribute to mood imbalances. It can cause blood sugar fluctuations and inflammation in the body, leading to feelings of anxiety and depression. Not only this, it can affect the cellular levels of key minerals that are crucial for neurological health. I often recommend lowering sugar intake for individuals with mood imbalances.
Dehydration can also impact mood as the body goes into fight or flight mode when dehydrated, leading to the release of adrenaline and cortisol, which can worsen anxiety and mood imbalances. Staying hydrated is therefore essential for optimal mental health.
Stimulants like caffeine can be too excitatory on the brain, worsening anxiety and mood disorders. I often recommend reducing or eliminating caffeine intake for individuals with mood imbalances.
In my clinical practice, I support people by checking their nutrient levels and prescribing minerals and supplements to help support neurotransmitter balance. I also help individuals develop personalised diet and lifestyle plans to support their mental health, including recommendations for nutrient-dense foods, exercise, and stress management techniques.
If you're struggling with mood imbalances, I encourage you to reach out to me to book an appointment. Together, we can work to develop a personalised plan to support your mental health and help you feel your best.
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The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, dietary supplement, exercise, or other health program.