The Nutrition Coach

Depression and nutrition case studies

Robert came to see us mainly because he had been suffering from severe digestive discomfort. His symptoms included frequent painful stomach cramps, bloating and irregular bowel movements. When taking the history, it also emerged that he had been feeling very low and was about to be given some anti-depressants by his GP.

It quickly became obvious that a closer look at Robert’s digestive system was required. We ran a test that not only established the state of his gut bacterial balance but also measured intolerance reactions to four key allergens: soy, eggs, milk and gluten.

The results came back showing not only marked bacterial imbalance and parasitic overgrowth, but Robert also had strong intolerance reactions to all four allergens. A bit of shock initially, as the next action step was to eliminate all those foods from his diet whilst working on the rest of issues with the bacteria and parasites.

However, having spent some time in making sure Robert had plenty of meal options and was still getting a variety of nutrients from his diet, he went home feeling somewhat relieved to find that there had been some underlying reasons to his digestive symptoms.

Only three weeks after the elimination of the allergens, Robert came back to see us and reported that not only were his digestive symptoms much reduced, but more importantly, his mood had picked up significantly. He was still keeping his options open with regards to the anti-depressants, but felt that by sorting out his diet he was addressing the underlying causes to his health problems rather than just dealing with the symptoms.

After six months, Robert’s digestion still continues to improve, and he has decided not to go on the anti-depressants. The next steps will involve him re-introducing some of the eliminated foods one by one to see whether his improved digestion can cope with the foods without the original adverse effects.

When Fiona first came to see The Nutrition Coach she was suffering from mild depression and her energy levels were at an all time low. She was at a loss with what to do as she had been a vegetarian for over ten years and felt that her diet was very healthy. On close inspection of Fiona's diet, we discovered that, although she was eating more than her five fruit and vegetables a day and plenty of wholegrains, her protein intake was very low.

Protein is essential for keeping blood sugar levels balanced. Fluctuations in blood sugar can cause low energy, mood swings, and depression. Protein also provides vital nutrients for brain function including zinc, the B vitamins and magnesium, as well as forming the building blocks for our brain hormones such as serotonin - our happy hormone.

Fiona's diet was also short in the omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids which are predominantly found in oily fish, nuts and seeds. These fats are vital for brain function and lack of them can play a significant part in depression.

We got to work with increasing Fiona's protein intake by ensuring she always had some protein at each meal. We also recommended that Fiona snack on nuts, seeds and oatcakes with nut butter or hummus. Boosting Fiona's intake of nuts and seeds meant that not only were we increasing the protein in her diet but also the essential fats. A vegetarian omega 3 and 6 supplement was also recommended.

Within a few weeks, Fiona noticed the difference in both her mood and her energy levels. Six months on, Fiona says that she feels like a different person with a much happier outlook on life.

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