The Depression – Nutrition Connection: Carole’s journey to vibrant health

The Depression – Nutrition Connection: Carole’s journey to vibrant health

Nutritional interventions can prove to be instrumental in supporting the resolution of depression symptoms. In this post, you’ll meet Carole and hear about her journey with depression. Learn how diet, lifestyle, and targeted supplements helped Carole regain health and how they may help you or someone you love.

Depression can be a devastating condition. According to the WHO, persistent sadness and a lack of interest or pleasure in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities are characteristic of depression. The National Institute of Mental Health estimated 17.3 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 7.1% of all U.S. adults.

Depression can disturb sleep and appetite and can result in fatigue. Symptoms often worsen with life stress. Early life adversity, trauma, or abuse may also set the stage for lifelong depression.

Many factors can cause physiologic depression. These include genetic, neurological, hormonal, immunological, nutritional, and neuroendocrinological mechanisms. 

So, how does nutrition fit into the care and resolution of depression?

At BeWell Associates, we focus on investigating the root causes of depression that can be evaluated by nutritional testing.

We look for:

  • amino acid deficiencies 
  • missing cofactors 
  • undiagnosed food sensitivities 
  • hidden heavy metal toxicity
  • low thyroid output

Let me share the story of Carole. When I first started seeing her, she suffered from long-term depression and, more recently, confusion. She was so concerned about the confusion and poor memory that she requested neurological testing. These tests came back with normal results, and yet she struggled with daily tasks. In fact, I was concerned that she wouldn’t be able to follow the nutrition program and lifestyle changes that I had laid out for her because of her cognitive difficulties.  

Together, Carole and I embarked on testing some key areas that affect memory and mood. We zeroed in on amino acids as they make up the neurotransmitters that regulate mood. We get necessary amino acids from protein-rich foods such as meats, poultry, nuts, and seeds. If there are missing building blocks, mood will suffer. Sometimes, there are adequate amino acids, but essential cofactors needed to activate these amino acids are missing. These include the B vitamins and trace minerals. Nutritional testing can detect the need for all these nutrients, and we paid close attention to these test results.

Not surprisingly, we discovered that several of Carole’s amino acids were very low, including tryptophan, phenylalanine, and tyrosine. These three are fundamental building blocks for cortisol, dopamine, and tryptophan, which are essential brain chemicals that help us feel happy and content and give us energy and focus.   

Carol’s decades-long vegetarian diet wasn’t quite meeting her needs, so we worked on upping her protein intake and eventually she did add poultry. In addition to changing her diet, I suggested Carole take the appropriate free form amino acids. These require very little digestion and are easy to assimilate, boosting the missing neurotransmitters quickly.

Carole was also low on phosphatidylserine, an amino acid involved in the manufacturing of acetylcholine, which I like to call the “molecule of memory.” Adding p. serine to her daily regimen gave her a significant lift in brain processing speed and recall. 

Testing also revealed a higher need for some of the B Complex vitamins. They act as cofactors that unleash the action of the amino acids. In Carole’s case, both the critical amino acids and the complementary B Complex vitamins were all quite depleted.

Eating a clean, nutrient-dense diet is critical for recovering from long term depression and is the ongoing foundation that provides the nutrients needed for proper brain function. It also minimizes the influx of toxins that can hamper the metabolic processes that affect brain health.

Sometime during this period, Carol had a bout with Lyme’s disease and breast cancer. Because of these two diagnoses, she got even more serious about making the lifestyle changes necessary to get healthy. 

Carole chose organic food to avoid their toxic load, increased her healthy proteins even more (adding a bit of poultry), and became more regular about her eating and sleep schedule and taking her supplements. Carole was so committed to her health that she read 22 health-related books during this time. About six months after becoming fully committed to applying herself to become optimally healthy, she wrote to me:

The other day, I dropped a piece of ginger, exactly in the spot where I didn’t want it to land. I laughed out loud. Then it occurred to me I’ve been laughing at a lot of little things these days.  I was not conscious of exactly when the change came, but I want to thank you for helping me to overcome the overwhelming, debilitating depression I’ve suffered for so many years. Thank you!

Carole B.  Huntingdon, PA

I’ve saved the best part of this story for last, the fact that Carol is 77 years young! So, you see, it’s never too late to feel better and enjoy life more! In addition to feeling better, Carole reports that she looks and feels much younger and that friends and acquaintances are always complimenting her.

Let us help you or someone you love to find out if there are nutritional causes to mood and other cognitive changes. If you’d like to explore whether we can help you with depression, please contact us for a free 15-minute informational phone call.


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