Updated: 7 days ago
By Autumn Beam MS, ACN, CNS, LDN
This week the Certified Nutrition Specialists and others passionate about the nutrition space spent our last week of October in sunny San Diego at our annual American Nutrition Association Summit.
The theme this year was mental health and we talked at length about the importance of mental health as part of the nutrition field. Not only does past trauma and diagnoses impact your nutrition journey, so does our relationship with food. To take it a step further, we've also been studying the connections between nutrition and our genetics as it relates to mental health. We know that mental health challenges can be inherited and some of those genes impact how our biochemistry processes nutrients that impact neurotransmitter signaling.
While we know that nutrition doesn't take the place of a therapist, and in some cases, necessary medication, it has become evident that having a nutritionist as part of your care team actually does matter for a large number of people when it comes to managing our mental health, but how?
This is a loaded question and the answer is, like it often is in personalized nutrition, “it depends.”
There are many nutrients that impact mental health. Those that have long been studied are things like optimal Vitamin D and Iron. Others are various B Vitamins, magnesium, zinc, selenium, manganese, boron, silicon, etc. Also, there’s a lot to be said about eating healthy and lowering the inflammatory impact on the brain. Certain nutrients are needed as cofactors to support proper neurotransmitter function in the brain.
Hormone fluctuations whether it’s thyroid or sex hormones can greatly impact mental health. In fact, I see a lot of increased anxiety in perimenopausal clients due to shifting hormones. Once we support hormones properly through that transition, we often see anxiety ameliorated.
Quality sleep is incredibly important when it comes to mental health because sleep deficits can wreak havoc on our cognitive function as well as our mental health.
Then there are GENES. Let me start out by saying that having a gene does not equal the smoking gun of the problem. You can have a gene and have it not impact you. This is the case with the MTHFR gene you may have heard of. Many people have this genetic marker, but it does not impact them in the slightest, while others have great difficulty with it. It also isn’t specific to just 1 or 2 nutrients. There are a plethora of nutrients in the pathway.
There are also many other genes that impact mental health and then there are things we don’t yet understand. Amino acid therapy for mental health is a growing approach outside of typical nutrient investigation. I do not recommend that anyone embark on amino acid therapy without the supervision of a qualified health professional as there can be contraindications. It’s important that the person you’re working with know this already to avoid any major potential problems.
This is why having a nutritionist on your team with a therapist and/or psychiatrist can be essential for clients. It’s a well-rounded way to support your mental health and hit as many bases as you can.
Imagine that you or someone you know has a history or trauma coupled with stress, poor sleep and genetic markers that impact neurotransmitter signaling. Also imagine that this person is not eating optimally or skipping meals, thus, altering their overall nutrient availability to support their biochemistry. I don’t know about you, but it sounds like that person may need a well-rounded team to help get them back on track from a mental health AND physical health perspective.
That’s why we’re here at Hope Wellness. We are often that missing piece of the puzzle. We’ve helped many clients improve their energy, relationship with food, outlook on habits and mental health. We also work alongside your practitioner or therapist to assist you in a multifaceted way rather than just monotherapy, which may not be enough.
One recent client with a lifelong mental health diagnosis started to see major relief in anxiety, sleep and their emotional roller coaster by working with us. They called it “life changing.” They tried many prescription medications with their psychiatrist and just couldn’t find the relief they needed. The missing piece was their nutrition and how their specific biochemistry was behaving as a result. We also incorporated some botanical therapy to assist in improving sleep, stress response and hormone signaling. The results were outstanding and even better than their prescriptions alone. We’re seeing this play out often in new research as well.
Working with a Certified Nutrition Specialist is more than just food. SO much more. We’re specifically trained in these more complex areas. If you’re wondering if having a nutritionist on your care team is right for you, set up a complimentary Discovery Call with one of us to talk further.
Also, if you know anyone that could benefit, send them this article and encourage them to set up a complimentary Discovery Call with us as well.
Life is busy and complex at times, but taking care of yourself and your mental health not only benefits you, but those you love and are around regularly: students, patients, volunteers, coworkers, etc. We're here for you.
Know that we are here anytime you need us and, to start, all you have to do is set up a complimentary discovery call with one of our team members. Contact us today to set an appointment for you.
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Check out our other recent article: Supplements and At-Home Testing Kits: Clever Marketing or a Good Health Purchase?
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