How and what we eat has an overarching effect on the mental health and body.
We all know that, don’t we? But really have you been doing anything about it? If you are in the camp of the invincible guts of steel, or “never taken a day off in my life” type person then you are either in luck, on borrowed time or in a minority! More and more people we find are attending 121 Dietitian’s clinics with symptoms they just can’t get answers/pills or potions for, and its having a detrimental effect on their mind and body so I thought I would write a little about it and how we have been able to help.
For some people it may not have been an overnight change but crept up over a few years, or for others it may have been a bolt out of the blue. Everyone and their circumstances are different, however the symptoms are often similar, or cross over with other illnesses making diagnosis vague and frustrating. But ultimately the most detrimental outcome for each person sitting beside me is that the problem is ongoing and impacting on their quality of life. Work suffers, family life is stressed, holidays become an idea of hell than heaven….
One recent example: Jen, she attended our clinic Jan 2014, a woman in her 30’s, busy life, young family and working a full-time job, full of life, shopping wasn’t always a priority and food was from ready-made meals for her and her partner. She started out in March 2012 with some episodes of feeling tired, low in mood, then progressed to feeling very low all the time coupled with some aches and pains, loss of appetite, change in bowel habits, unable to sleep well, feeling real fatigue, colder than others, weight gain, brain fog, forgetfulness, hair thinning……. She felt alone, worried and isolated. She had been for some tests and told she had fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and needed to exercise more. She didn’t get the answers she needed so attended our clinic. She had a life before this and wanted it back.
We requested a series of blood tests for her re: her nutritional status, full thyroid function and antibodies, cholesterol profile, etc, we took her body composition and waist circumference. Jen also completed our questionnaire and 7 day food diary.
Tests showed that Jen was in poor nutritional health, she had multiple low levels (not out of range but very low levels sub-optimal for health) of essential nutrients in her blood. She had an elevated glucose and triglyceride level. Her macro and micro vitamins intake were minimal with a high sugar/salt, sat fat intake. These problems, you may be surprised to read, however were not addressed at this stage. This was not until we got her GUT working again, if the gut isn’t absorbing then those expensive vitamins and minerals pills and potions that you are encouraged to buy (and Jen had stack loads in her bathroom cabinet) would be a waste of time. Having a poor gut function like IBS impacts on more than the GUT and as mentioned above it has a negative effect on overall health, with prescribed antidepressants, antacids, laxatives…..being common.
To fix this we guided Jen through our excellent Low FODMAP elimination programme. 8 weeks later with full support she came back a changed lady her IBS symptoms had improved significantly. Next we were ready to address the diet for her mood, total health and for her life back.
As Jen was carrying extra weight she decided to enrol in our Counterweight Weight management programme, a 12 month fully supported evidence based programme. Returning for the last appointment she has now lost the weight she had been so desperate to shift, she had fixed her GUT, and is now eating a nutrient rich diet. This in turn has helped her low mood, her family life, energy levels and is now looking forward to a holiday abroad with her family, something she feared greatly when we first met her. Jen is one of many we see men, women and children are all reporting problems.
Mental Health – So why is this happening?
Many factors can play a part here but certainly modernisation is a big one. We are living faster lives with fast foods and less down time to relax. We have over recent centuries moved from a whole foods diet to one that is based on processed and refined foods. These processed foods are leading not only to greater ill health: obesity, heart disease and inflammatory diseases, they are also leading to greater emotional distress in the form of depression, anxiety and insomnia. Eating a diet filled with chips, fast food and fizzy drinks is leading to an epidemic of “mental illness.” We also eat too quickly, chewing food has declined and food is beige, soft and gulped down, not allowing our mouth enzymes a look in.
Good Nutrition is vital for your mind and body. This does not have to be difficult, so many people are confused with all the shouting and pushing of some extremes. Adhering to veganism, vegetarianism, Low carbs or paleo is not required. If the first changes you make are by concentrating on cutting out industrial based processed foods and eating more from scratch, cooking meals in the kitchen, focusing on a whole foods diet filled with wholesome prepared meals then you are doing well. Sitting and savouring food with family and friends is a part of life and its importance should not be overlooked for total happiness and health.
At 121 Dietitian we look at the full person. We spend a large amount of our time building a profile of the individual’s health by using blood results, checking symptoms, assessing the diet and body composition and most importantly discussing with the patient how they feel. Our programmes are detailed but we get the results to get people’s lives back.
If your GUT is down so are you.
If you are unsure of how to change your eating habits, or need help optimising the foods you eat please do contact us. We would love to help you or your family and friends with any nutrition related queries big or small.
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How can a Dietitian help
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Information checked & correct on 16th May 2018.
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