As a holistic health coach, I regularly work with a clients who struggle with mental illness. I will always look at a few aspects of their life that I know for certain have a direct effect on their mental health. The first place I begin is their self-care; are they doing one thing every day for themselves? Are they exercising boundaries that protect their needs before serving the needs of others? Are they taking time to move their body at least three days per week? Are they journaling or seeing a therapist? All of these are examples of self-care that can minimize mental and emotional distress on the surface and are very important parts of a wellness routine. However, being that mental illness is a physical disease my next focus is purely nutritional.
I know that the food we put in our bodies can act as the most potent form of medicine or as the most toxic form of poison. The food we put in our bodies can help us fight against mental illness such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder or it can encourage their symptoms. You may be wondering what I’m talking about as I have found there to be a large disconnect between mental health treatment and diet in today’s world; after all, the illness is said to be due solely to dysfunction in your brain. However, the “brain” in your gut is of greater influence on your mental well-being as it is estimated that over 90% of your serotonin is manufactured there. A scientist from a recent study at Cal Tech titled “Indigenous Bacteria from the Gut Microbiota Regulate Host Serotonin Biosynthesis” confirms gut microbes modulate serotonin levels; "Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter and hormone that is involved in a variety of biological processes. The finding that gut microbes modulate serotonin levels raises the interesting prospect of using them to drive changes in biology." (Hsiao, 2015). So how do you ensure your gut microbes regulate and produce serotonin adequately? In partnership with my patients, I have found removing gluten, dairy and sugar to be critical when fighting an imbalanced gut that coincides with mental illness. All three culprits cause inflammation in the microbiome and create an optimal environment for an imbalance of good vs bad gut bacteria which in turn creates imbalance in serotonin production.
While on the topic of gut bacteria, my third focus is supplementation with a probiotic with at least 90 billion live cultures. If you’re anything like I was before finding holistic nutrition and integrative medicine, you don’t make getting your daily dose of raw organic sauerkraut and anti-parasitic foods like papaya seeds or pumpkin seeds a priority. While eating these foods on a regular basis will certainly benefit your gut bacteria and as a result, your overall mental well-being; I find implementing a daily probiotic fits more seamlessly into my client’s busy lives. In addition, nutrient deficiencies in Vitamin B complex, Magnesium, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Tryptophan, Vitamin D, Folate and Calcium are directly linked to symptoms of mental illness. Replenishing these nutrient deficiencies through a whole food diet, supplementation and in severe cases Vitamin IV’s, will make a considerable difference in your mental health.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, try implementing all three of these lifestyle changes for at least six weeks and let me know how you’re feeling. If you’re feeling overwhelmed at the thought of implementing all three of these changes on your own, book a health coaching session with me through Earth Healthcare in Los Angeles. I would be more than happy to show you the way.
Certified Health Coach, Earth Healthcare