Nutrition and men’s mental health: why a happy gut means a happy mind

Nutrition and men’s mental health: why a happy gut means a happy mind

Superman’s wonder drug

For some, as we descend into winter our moods can drop and everything seems grey.  Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D) is a form of depression predominantly brought on by the lack of sunshine we absorb.  Superman gets his power from Earth’s yellow sun and it seems we mortal men aren’t much different.  We generate vitamin D from sunlight exposure, which helps to keep our moods up.  Living in the Northern hemisphere we just don’t get enough sunshine throughout winter.  But you can make up the low Vitamin D through your diet.  Eat more organic egg yolks and liver (if you can stomach it). Both are naturally high in vitamin D.  Don’t fear egg yolks!  Provided you source your eggs from well cared for and naturally fed hens, yolks are one of the best superfoods you can eat for mental health.  Besides the Vitamin D, they’re loaded with healthy cholesterol essential for keeping us happy.  Good cholesterol (HDL) helps produce our sex hormones, testosterone; a naturally powerful mood boosting hormone.

Making the gut-brain connection

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Serotonin is probably the most well known happy-hormone.  But most people don’t realise that 90% of it is produced in the gut, rather than the brain.  That’s why you always hear in nutrition circles that a healthy gut leads to a healthy mind.  Today poor digestion is far too common resulting in compromised serotonin production and low moods.  Reliance on processed foods and too much sugar has lead to gut inflammation and a host of uncomfortable symptoms, commonly understood as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).  Bloating, aches, pains, general fatigue and depression are some of the signs of an inflamed gut.  Avoid inflammatory foods such as sugars, cereals, artificial ingredients and other mass processed meals.  Swap them for anti-inflammatory nuts and seeds, avocados, blueberries and dark green leafy vegetables.

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Fish oil is your most powerful anti-inflammatory food.  However, it’s important to choose them carefully. A recent study in New Zealand tested 32 fish oil brands and discovered that 83% were rancid, unrelated to their best-before date.  It’s a real problem because while we think we’re eating well, oxidised oils drive inflammation. Be wary of cheaper brands too.  They may contain heavy metals which can wreak havoc on brain chemistry and our mental health.  In my opinion, the best brand currently on the market is Bare Biology’s Omega 3 Lion Heart liquid. They use only wild fish from clean waters; have one of the highest potencies of EPA and DHA (the actual fatty acids of Omega 3 we need) and, most importantly, they have every batch independently tested so you can be sure they’re super fresh. 

Tim Blakey is a Master Trainer, Physiotherapist and Nutritionist. He has over 14 years experience working with professional athletes and high profile clients. Tim is currently the Senior Perfomance Specialist at The Workshop Gymnasium in the Bulgari Hotel, London. He is  one of the very few male Lululemon ambassadors in the UK. Learn more about him and his services here
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