The right nutrients for improved mental wellbeing
Nutritional supplement expert, Simon Bandy, gives his tips for combating depression the natural way
We are all constantly told that the shape and state of our bodies is directly affected by what we feed it. It is no secret that a lifetime of eating fatty foods and an absence of fresh fruit and vegetables in your diet can lead to obesity, heart disease and lack of energy, but what we often fail to acknowledge is the effect that different nutrients have on our mood.
Nutrients and mood
“Our brain is a hugely complex vital organ” says Simon Bandy from nutritional supplements company, Veganicity. “It dictates how we feel, how we act and fundamentally decides who we are. It makes sense that if we provide it with the nutrients it needs to function, it will perform better than if we starve it of the fuel it needs to keep us mentally healthy and alert. If we continually fail to feed ourselves with good brain nutrients then we risk putting our psychological health and mental abilities in jeopardy.”
Of course depression, anxiety and mood swings are about more than vitamins and minerals – life experience, genetics and physical wellbeing all play a part – but as Simon explains, taking control of your nutrients intake can have a very positive impact, “Some things about our lives we can’t unfortunately control which is why when it comes to something like food and nutrients that we can control, it is important for us as individuals to make sure we benefit from our choices as much as possible. Simply popping a vitamin C tablet once a day realistically isn’t going to do much to significantly improve your mental wellbeing, but taking twenty minutes to consider your weekly vitamin intake and making the appropriate changes, probably will make a big difference to your life and mental health.
Know your nutrients
But with a seemingly ever-growing array of nutritional supplements available, how do we make sense of it all and know which ones to choose? Simon gives his expert advice on which supplements can enhance mental health and aims to make the selection a little easier:
Popular in many countries as a herbal anti-depressant, 5-HTP is a natural precursor to serotonin which is believed to help maintain a calm mood and promote good sleeping patterns. Sleep deprivation can make it almost impossible for the sufferer to cope calmly and effectively with life the following day, making a good night’s sleep a basic essential for good mental health.
“Try and find a 5-HTP supplement which is combined with additional nutrients such as magnesium and zinc” says Simon. “Magnesium is known to help quell feelings of anxiety and zinc keeps you feeling motivated and energetic.”
This exotic-sounding herb is actually a member of the parsley family. It has been used for hundreds of years in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as a natural remedy for depression, stress and fatigue. Gotu Kola is believed to be a ‘neurotransmitter’ meaning that it supports the production of brain messenger molecules, helping the brain to function.
For people who need to avoid caffeine, Gotu Kola is a good choice as it is caffeine-free. In Thailand tea made from Gotu Kola is consumed as a natural pick-me-up as it is believed to rejuvenate the mind and rebuild physical energy.
Gotu Kola is thought to be an efficient nootropic (memory and intelligence enhancer) and has a large following of people living with depression who benefit daily from its mind and mood-enhancing properties.
The Valerian root has been used since the Middle Ages as a natural remedy for nervous tension, helping to suppress the feeling of rising panic and calm irritability. Many people find that valerian has a gentle sedative effect which leaves them feeling refreshed rather than drowsy and unlike the similarly named prescription drug, ‘valium’ valerian is natural and non-narcotic. Many people report that valerian helps them achieve a natural, healthy sleep pattern and helps to combat hyper activity and over excitement.
If you have researched herbal remedies for mental health you may well have come across this supplement which is gaining ever more attention due to its memory and concentration enhancing properties. As with most natural remedies, Ginkgo Biloba has been used in the East for centuries (as early as 3000BC) but only relatively recently has it become known to us in the Western World.
A favourite among post menopausal women, Ginkgo Biloba is reported to improve general mental wellbeing and give people a greater sense of satisfaction and fulfilment in their everyday lives.
Ginkgo is also used as a natural treatment for Alzheimer’s, arthritis, peptic ulcers and erectile dysfunction so although there may be little documented proof that it can change your mood, it could help to improve deep rooted health problems which may be causing you concern and discomfort.
Simon concludes “The issue that we have with natural remedies is that most of the evidence surrounding their efficacy is anecdotal. But with all medication – whether natural or prescribed – there is no one miracle cure that suits everyone. It would be my advice to keep an open mind and see what works best for you and always discuss your mental health concerns with your doctor.”
Simon Bandy is General Manager at nutritional supplement company, Veganicity. All Veganicity products are suitable for everyone including those following strict vegetarian and vegan diets. Most of the products are free from wheat, gluten, yeast and sugar. Veganicity products are available to order online and will be delivered conveniently and quickly to your door. Available from www.veganicity.com, www.amazon.co.uk and all good independent health stores.