More and more research is emerging which investigates the relationship between the foods we eat and our mental health. Dr Libby says in her latest book: Women’s Wellness Wisdom:
“have you ever considered that what you eat actually becomes part of you?”Dr Libby Weaver
It makes sense that the food we eat is broken down into nutrients and these nutrients are used to build our cells, repair damage and help to carry out the thousands of chemical reactions that occur in our bodies at any given moment. Nutrients have a great impact on our health. In order to function optimally, it’s important we meet our daily nutrient requirements.
As always, we recommend food first. Eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods. The most simple and effective way to do this? Just eat real food. Nature does an amazing job at providing us with the nutrients we need to thrive. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, animal proteins and dairy are all nutrient dense foods which contain various important nutrients. Building our diet with a solid foundation of real food is a great start in helping to meet our nutrient requirements. Unfortunately, optimal health doesn’t stop there. These days, conventional farming methods and depleted soils mean that our soil nutrient content is not what it used to be. As a result, our animals and produce typically have a lower mineral content. A good quality multivitamin or mineral supplement is advised to supplement the minerals we have lost out through the food supply. This helps provide a healthy foundation.
Stress & Nutrients
The stress pathways in our body are nutrient demanding. What this means is that when we’re stressed it can deplete our nutrient reserves more rapidly. Not only do we need to top up certain nutrients in order to prevent deficiencies, but also an adequate nutrient supply may help us to cope with stress better. Let’s take a closer look at what nutrients are of particular importance.
Vitamin C is required by the adrenals to make our stress hormones (and also our sex hormones). This means that in times of stress, we deplete our vitamin C much faster. Chronic stress can also place more pressure on our immune system, of which vitamin C is an important nutrient for.
B vitamins are the collective term given to a number of water soluble vitamins including: folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. These vitamins typically work together in the body which is why they are often put together in a vitamin B complex. Various studies have shown the requirement for B vitamins in stress and energy pathways in the body. A randomised clinical trial by Stough et al. investigated B vitamins as a potential strategy for occupational stress. In many instances it was found that supplementation with B vitamins or a multivitamin formula (which contain B vitamins) reduced perceived stress levels within only 4 weeks.
Magnesium is a superstar mineral which is involved in over 300 reactions in our body. It’s no surprise that our stress pathways are included in there. Magnesium is both directly and indirectly involved in the production of many neurotransmitters and hormones which impact our feelings of stress. It has been shown in various studies that low magnesium status is associated with an increased sensitivity to stress.
Zinc is another important mineral which is involved in our stress pathways. It has been found that zinc may be associated with the regulation of GABA – a neurotransmitter which makes us feel calm and relaxed. A link has been observed between low zinc status and anxiety. Zinc supplementation was found to improve symptoms of anxiety in this particular study.
For more guidance on what nutrients might be right for you, have a chat to one of our trained health professionals. We’re always more than happy to help you over the phone or in store if you’re in the area.
Take care and stay well!