I treat clients through diet for many different health conditions; arthritis, autoimmune, hormone imbalance, skin conditions, food intolerance, IBS, acid reflux etc. But one I see regularly is anxiety and depression. Though changing my clients diet we can get awesome results in curing or managing anxiety, depression and panic attacks. In fact, I have had clients who have been too anxious to even leave the house alone, who are now almost fully recovered or able to manage their symptoms and reduce or eliminate medications. So, I read some latest medical studies with interest as they seen to back up the success I, and I’m sure many other naturopaths, have had with their clients.
(Source: Biological Psychiatry, 2015; 77(7): 607)
The study suggests that a typical Western diet, which is high in saturated fats and sugars, could be responsible for depression and psychiatric disorders. Now, I know this to be true so it’s brilliant that medical studies are proving this too so patients have other options than simply being reliant on prescribed medications.
A diet high in undesirable fats, sugars and processed foods will change the bacteria in your gut (these are known as the gut micro biome). Your gut bacteria are responsible for the health of all your body as a whole – including your brain. Changes in gut bacteria can affect cognitive ability, memory and increase anxiety.
A typical Western diet is also responsible for causing persistent inflammation in the body and, you guessed it, in your brain too. So this not only leads to depression but also to more serious psychiatric disorders too.
Test subjects eating a typical Western diet appeared to show behavioural problems which included anxiety, impaired memory and repetitive actions similar to OCD. They also showed symptoms of inflammation in the body and brain as well as gut permeability – this means that the lining of the gut has been damaged to the point of letting food particles, toxins and faecal matter seep into the blood stream.
This is something I explain to clients who come to me looking for a solution to their anxiety of depression. The toxins from a leaky gut can be neurotoxins which will directly affect brain function.
Eating a more authentic diet will greatly reduce inflammation in the body, repair the gut and clean the blood. This is vital for overall heath – including mental health.
Interestingly, it’s not just adults who suffer with the mental effects of diet – I see it very commonly in children too. Symptoms include tantrums, lack of concentration, tearfulness, aggression, and slower learning in school. Physical symptoms can include persistent or regular runny nose, ear, nose and throat infections and regular virus or raised temperatures.
Health is wealth! Simple changes in your lifestyle can bring the most profound improvements in your wellbeing.