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How to address low mood with nutritional therapy and coaching

How to address low mood with nutritional therapy and coaching. I have seen the prevalence of low mood rise in my practice over the past few years, so I’ve chosen to specialise in this important area. I also specialise in grief, anxiety and fatigue – which can all be linked with low mood. There can, of course, be a multitude of reasons behind someone’s low mood and this can only be properly addressed within the context of a session. Here is a brief outline on how nutritional therapy and wellbeing coaching can play its part in addressing this growing issue.

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The rise in the incidence of low mood

The pandemic has increased our focus on health and wellbeing, which is perhaps hardly surprising. The effect it’s had on our mental health cannot be underestimated and modern life can be extremely stressful at the best of times. According to mental health charity MIND, one in four people will experience a mental health problem every year. However, many are now reporting mental health issues as a direct result of the pandemic, so numbers may be even higher than usual.

There may be biochemical or psychological issues that predispose an individual to low mood or depression. Low mood is usually categorised as feelings of sadness, tiredness, low self-esteem or frustration. Challenging life events can trigger low mood. Relationship problems, bereavement, sleep problems, stress at work, bullying, chronic illness or pain can all be a cause. It’s also possible to feel down without there being an obvious reason. In some cases these feelings are transient but, in others, low mood persists, impacting daily life. This may then be referred to as depression.

The holistic approach

When I used only nutritional therapy with clients experiencing low mood, it often felt as if I wasn’t covering all the bases. So I trained as a wellbeing coach. I can now help people look at all aspects of their health and wellbeing, honing in on specific aspects that might need addressing. These won’t always be nutritional. Whilst psychotherapy is usually about looking back, in coaching it’s about what changes can be made in the present and what outcomes we would like in the future. Coaching enables me to help clients connect to how they feel now and to discover any root causes. I can then provide a framework for how to go forward from where they may currently feel stuck in their low mood. This will, of course, look different for everyone.

How nutritional therapy can help low mood

Nutritional psychiatry is a growing area of research that looks at the effect our diet has on physiological mechanisms affecting our mood. There is particular interest in the role our gut microbiome has to play in this. There is a two way communication between our gut and brain, running through nervous, hormonal and immune pathways. Serotonin, the feel good hormone, is manufactured in the gut. It’s therefore really important to ensure that we address gut health in cases of low mood and depression. I frequently see digestive issues and low mood and/or anxiety presenting together, demonstrating this link.

Integrative Support for low mood

According to Patrick Holford, author of Food for the Brain, it’s vital to consider nutrition with regards to depression, especially macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins and fats) and micronutrients (e.g vitamins and minerals) that help to make the neurotransmitters and hormones responsible for balanced mood. Regular exercise is also important as it can exert a positive effect on mood, especially if it is done outdoors in a green environment.

According to Holford, depressive symptoms are also associated with making unhealthy food choices and decreased variety. One study found that poor nutritional choices, reduced day-to-day functioning and emotional issues all exacerbate each other, potentially creating a vicious cycle.

Foods and nutrients that can help with low mood

A diet that contains minimal sugar, processed food and alcohol (which is a known depressant) is going to be helpful in cases of low mood, as well as an emphasis on the following:

Omega 3 – found in oily fish, nuts and seeds. This is very important for brain function.

B vitamins – found in wholegrains, green leafy vegetables, eggs, legumes, nuts and seeds. These help in the formation of neurotransmitters related to the regulation of mood.

Magnesium – found in almonds, bananas, black beans, broccoli, brown rice, cashews, green leafy vegetables, nuts, oats, seeds and tofu. Magnesium can also be administered via Epsom bath salts and Magnesium sprays. Studies have shown that magnesium helps depression and anxiety.

Vitamin D – the best source is sunlight so you may need to top up with a supplement. Research shows that vitamin D is important for addressing low mood and depression.

Dark chocolate – rich in many mood-boosting compounds 🙂

Probiotic foods – yogurt, kefir, fermented vegetables. These can all help with gut health and therefore the brain too.

Would you like my help?

If you’re experiencing low mood and feel you could do with some support, I can devise a programme specifically for your individual needs. For more information about my services see here

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions on how to address low mood with nutritional therapy and coaching: vanessa@wellbeingandnutrition.co.uk

(Always consult your GP if you are concerned you have a serious mental health issue)