Depression is something extremely difficult to understand especially if you have never experienced it. It is sometimes viewed as a state you should just be able to snap out of, there is significant clinical evidence to show that there is a biochemical element as well as the psychological.
I feel that when I am treating a patient one element cannot be considered without the other as they are usually interlinked. Environmental, circumstantial, emotional, physical and biochemical changes could all be solely responsible, or contributory in the development of a depressive state.
As with stress and anxiety it is paramount to maintain steady blood sugar levels. Combining protein with complex carbohydrate is an excellent way to do this. The body digests the two food types in differing acidic environments and uses differing enzymes within the Gastro-intestinal tract to perform the processing.
The digestive system copes better and can perform more efficiently when they are consumed separately allowing the body time to break each one down, this is of greater significance if the digestive system is being impaired by a medical condition. For example you could eat nuts and seeds as a mid-morning snack (protein), with sweet potato or quinoa salad for lunch, then salmon fillet or chicken as a snack, and chickpea curry for tea.
Mental illness is a complex situation and a multifaceted approach is often necessary. Personally I give a physical treatment through Osteomyology, which works directly on the musculo-skeletal and neurological system, I am a clinical nutritionist so alongside the physical treatment I provide a dietary analysis and food diary with vitamin and mineral adjustments.
I work with a psychotherapy counsellor and the individuals GP to take a complete care approach. I also actively encourage the patient to undertake some exercise, even if it is only very light.
At least 15 minutes a day can have dramatic effects. Another gadget that you may consider is an ioniser. They give off negative ions which are more naturally generated by churning flowing water (think waterfalls, the seaside and fountains).
These ions are thought to be good for you, whereas positive ions which are generated by electrical equipment such as computer screens, laptops, air conditioning and TV’s. In clinical trials patients saw significant mood elevation from reducing positive ion activity, and leaving an ioniser on overnight.
I am always intrigued by the medical care approach to these conditions, they admit there is an imbalance of chemicals, but do not test to discover where the deficiency lies. A trial and error system of prescribing medication to find one that “suits” the patient is frequently employed. Even without testing an analysis of the individuals diet could give clues to deficient areas.
Are they taking in significant sources of omega 3? Are they taking in significant sources of Vitamin B? Are they taking in any sources of EPA? If even this was analysed it may help. Unlike drugs which often have side effects and interactive side effects you are unlikely to experience this with food.
A very simple test you can ask your GP to carry out for you is to test your homocysteine levels. You can get a home test kit if you come up against some difficulties. If your level is above 9mmol/l, take a combined supplement of B2, 6, 12, folic acid, zinc and TMG, it should provide at least 400mcg of folic acid, 250mcg of B12, and 20mg B6. If your level is above 15mmol/l double this amount. Also eat Vitamin B rich foods such as – nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables.
So which are the best foods that we could be using to help alleviate our symptoms?
Here are my top eat and don’t eat foods, herbs and supplements For Anxiety Oily fish, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, black Thai rice, dark chocolate (high in magnesium), sweet potato.
For Stress As with anxiety plus prawns & pumpkin seeds.
For Depression Wild black rice, mushrooms, eggs, quinoa and asparagus. Here is a surprising spice but one of my favourite to use and why you should use it.
Nutmeg – the ancient Romans used it as a brain tonic with modern studies reveal that it contains a compound called myristicin which has been shown to improve memory as well as inhibit an enzyme in the brain that contributes to Alzheimer’s. It can also help limit fatigue and stress as well as help improve concentration. It also has a relaxing property and can be used as a sleep aid. Nutmeg can be toxic if taken in high doses. I nut or less than 1 tsp at a time. Cauliflower nutmeg soup – 1 cauliflower cut into pieces, 2 pints vegetable stock, 3 1⁄2 oz. almond cream or coconut milk, 2 oz. coconut oil, 2 chopped onions, 1 tsp nutmeg. Melt coconut oil and sauté onions and cauliflower, add vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat, add nutmeg, cover and simmer or transfer to the slow cooker. Blend if you wish then add the cream or coconut milk.
Foods to avoid
If you have Anxiety Sugary foods, white rice, pasta, bread
If you are under Stress As with anxiety
If you have Depression
Sugary refined foods, cut down on stimulants such as tea, coffee, fizzy drinks, alcohol. A minimum of two weeks should be undertaken to trial a diet without wheat and dairy as well as the above documenting your symptoms.