By Maeve Sherlock-
There are many neurotransmitters and hormones involved in how we feel physically and mentally and these chemicals need to be balanced to result in feeling good and achieving good mental health. To ensure good quality hormones, we must ensure we have a good quality diet and optimal digestive health, as the protein that we consume is broken down into these feel good hormones. Your brain like other organs, responds to what you eat and drink. It needs several vitamins and minerals and other nutrients to stay healthy. If you deprive your brain of these essential nutrients, it cannot function properly. This subsequently can increase your risk of mental health problems.
Some essential nutrients for brain health are Vitamin C, D and B vitamins along with magnesium, selenium and zinc. It is preferable to get these from a good diet which includes lots of fruits, vegetables and leafy greens. Amino acids are also extremely important as they are the building blocks of protein. They are essential to your brains production of neurotransmitters. These are a type of chemical messenger which sends signals between your nerve endings.
What makes us feel good mentally?!
Serotonin is the hormone that contributes to feelings of well-being, happiness, mood regulation, appetite, digestion, restful sleep, memory and sexual desire. Dopamine is another neurotransmitter that helps us feel motivated, increases concentration and feelings of bliss. It is derived from the amino acid phenylalanine. When we consume protein, our bodies break these down to amino acids, which in turn are chemically converted to our feel good hormones.
How can I increase my feel good hormones naturally?
The amino acid tryptophan is needed to produce serotonin and this can be increased by eating foods high in tryptophan, including turkey, bananas, eggs, pineapple, nuts and seeds and salmon. Other ways to increase serotonin include exercise, getting out in the sunshine, being more positive and increasing good gut bacteria.
The connection between our feel good hormones and our digestive system
The Gut Brain Connection is recently becoming much more widely accepted as the way to treat mental health. Have you ever had a “gut-wrenching” experience? Do certain situations make you “feel nauseous”? Have you ever felt “butterflies” in your stomach? We use these expressions for a reason. The gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotion. Anger, anxiety, sadness, elation — all of these feelings (and others) can trigger symptoms in the gut.
The brain is connected to the digestive system by the vagus nerve which is the longest of 12 different cranial nerves that link out intestinal nervous controls and co-ordinate a variety of important bodily functions from heart rate to the digestive process. Our intestinal tract has its own highly complex nervous system which is connected to our central nervous system via the vagus nerve. Due to this, the gut is now being referred to as the second brain.
Your microbiome—the diverse population of microbes (bacteria) that live in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract—plays an important role in the health of your digestion and in other aspects of your physical and mental health. Researchers now say that this role of promoting good health may extend to include the health of your brain and neurological systems. If our gut can affect our brain then it is suggested that healing the gut can subsequently heal our mental health. 95% of our serotonin or feel good hormone is produced in our gut. One of the ways we can promote gut healing is to increase the good gut bacteria in our intestines. Probiotics have been proven to enhance good gut bacteria and to positively influence our microbiome and BioKinesiology can assess which ‘good’ bacteria your digestive system needs.
Healing the gut is also essential to ensure that the gut is working effectively for digestion, absorption and assimilation of nutrients.
It is both evident by research and life experience that all of the below circumstances can result in anxiety, depression and mental health conditions;
- A situational trauma
- Medication side affects
- Taking proton pump inhibitors (omeprazole)
- An inability to achieve what you want or need
- Gluten sensitivity
- Lack of exercise
- A mind set of pessimism
- Repeated use of Antibiotics
- Chemotherapy / Radiation
- Something bad happening
- Grief, loss, separation
- Biochemistry imbalance
- Lowered Immune system
- Endocrine system imbalance
- Nervous system and neurotransmitter issues
- An attitude of negativity
- Food intolerances
- Gut and digestive conditions eg: IBS
- Nutritional deficiency
- Hormone imbalance
- Bacteria, infections, fungus and parasites
- Heavy metals
- Exhaustion / insomnia
- PMT (can last 1-2 weeks monthly)
- Excessive alcohol / binge drinking
- Drug use
- Lack of life purpose / unfulfilment
- Skin conditions
- Stress (which can lower your immune system and increase your pathogen load)
There are millions, even billions, of chemical reactions that make up the dynamic system that is responsible for your mood, perceptions, and how you experience life and several of these forces interact to bring on depression. Gut problems and mental health symptoms are caused by many different elements, therefore healing these successfully will require several different approaches and treatments. An holistic approach used by BioKinesiologists, which treats the whole person taking into account their mental, physical, chemical, emotional, spiritual and social factors is the most beneficial way to tackle this.
Just as you are a unique individual, your experience of anxiety and depression is unique to you and its cause or several causes are unique to you, therefore it is impossible to find one singular fix for everyone.
How do BioKinesiologists approach treating mental health?
To effectively treat mental health, it must be treated from all angles. This includes physically, chemically, emotionally, energetically and spiritually. Only fixing one area or only taking pharmaceutical drugs will not remove all symptoms.
BioKinesiology will find and treat:
- Chemical sensitivities
- Biochemical imbalances
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Liver pathways
- Pathogens and toxins including heavy metals & harmful chemicals
- Digestion and Gut issues which will affect bio chemistry
- Probiotic strains required to support good bacteria
- Food intolerances and what is causing them
- Hormonal imbalances which affect mood and sleep
- Thyroid and adrenals performance
- Cellular Respiration and energy production
- Emotional memories your body is holding on to
- Emotional challenges you are being affected by
- Bach flower or Australian Bush flower remedies which could support you emotionally
In addition, we provide information on
- Dietary changes and alternatives that can support your gut health
- Practical techniques to enhance your healing
- Books to read (on mind set / self-development / awareness )
- Spiritual practices
- Online Resources
- Exercises / Movement
- Signposting to other professionals including talking therapies and counselling, hypnotherapy, reflexology, havering, CBT, NLP, life coaches, energy healings, EFT and local services.
By Maeve Sherlock, Midlands Kinesiology, Athlone.