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Sleep, depression & mood swings

If you are reading this, you are already aware of the benefits that eating a balanced diet has on our physical and mental health and you probably already eat quite healthy. And this is a great foundation. But sometimes hormones and nutrient deficiencies can play trick on us. Stress, age, environmental factors, and life challenges can all create an extra demand on what our body needs to function at optimum level, and so we can experience sleep disturbances, lack of energy, low libido, feeling low, mood swings...

In parallel to dealing with any external factors that you can change, there may be a few other things to consider:

  • Are you eating enough foods of the right types, at the right time of the day? Some protein for breakfast can set the tone for the rest of the day and provide the necessary tryptophan, key amino acid for the synthesis of serotonin (mood neurotransmitter) and melatonin (sleep hormone). The synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters also require sufficient amounts of other nutrients: zinc, selenium, B complex.

  • Are you digesting foods properly so that nutrients can be well absorbed? If you are concerned about any digestive issues, it may be worth to try to optimise gut function.

  • Is there any hormone imbalance to consider? Sometimes hormones (thyroid hormones T4 and T3, oestrogen, progesterone,...) appear to be in the healthy range according to guidelines, but they may not be at the level at which your body works at its best. Foods and herbs can help nudge the production of such hormones.

  • Are you exercising? When you exercise, blood circulation in the brain improves and your body releases chemicals called endorphins, which help reduce the perception of pain, and also trigger positive feelings. If this weren’t enough, brain tryptophan concentrations and serotonin synthesis and release have been shown to increase during running. Nerd comment alert: Exercise-induced elevations in serum non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) concentrations help to dissociate tryptophan from albumin in blood, increasing the serum free tryptophan pool (Fernstrom & Fernstrom, 2006), which could facilitate transport of tryptophan into the brain (Jenkins, Nguyen, Polglaze, & Bertrand, 2016)

These are some of the possible aspects to consider, but there may be other that are more relevant to your specific situation. You know your body what is normal and acceptable to you. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, you don't need to put up with them.

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