We’ve all felt anxious or depressed at times. It’s a part of life. Unfortunately “at times” turns into “all the time” for many people. In fact, anxiety and depression have reached epidemic numbers and have TRIPLED in the last ten years alone. Let's get to the bottom of this. Shall we?
My bouts with depression began at a very young age, and continued into adulthood when I suffered with postpartum depression after the births of both my girls. Medication helped for a little while, but only masked the symptoms. Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro and Wellbutrin; I’ve been on them all. Like a revolving door, each one cycled in and out of my life for years with little or no avail. Weight gain, acne, exhaustion and numbness were side effects that were not only frustrating, but seemed to contradict the whole purpose of “curing” my depression.
Through my studies at The Institute For Integrative Nutrition, I began to deepen my awareness of amino acids. When Julia Ross taught one of our classes on the connection between amino acids and depression, the concept clicked with me. When shespoke at the conference a few weekends ago, my excitement was reignited! For those of you who don’t know, amino acids are the building blocks of protein. For the purpose of this post, let's just say they regulate everything in our bodies from metabolism to our mood. Our bodies can only produce 10 of the 20+ amino acids. The rest, we have to get from food.
The problem is that the foods we eat today are much different than they were 30 years ago. Due to factory farming, high-protein foods such as fish, eggs, chicken and beef don’t have the same nutrients and only carry a fraction of the amino acids they once did. (Do you see the importance of organic?) When we’re living on white flour and white sugar, our bodies are depleted of all the amino acids we need to maintain a stable mood. Food is a drug for many people and the more we use processed foods as a drug, the more we deplete our body’s amino acids.
Time to get down to business.
According to Juila Ross, there are four chemicals that create our moods:
1) Dopamine/norepinephrie. These chemicals are what gives us natural energy and mental focus.
2) GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) These chemicals are natural sedatives that allow us to calm down and relax
3) Endorphins. These are our natural painkillers. You may recognize these because they are released when you exercise. (hint! hint!)
4) Serotonin. These are our natural mood stabilizers and sleep aides.
When all four of these lovely chemicals are in balance, we are feeling stupendous, stable and more like ourselves. When they are out of balance, we overeat and feel exhausted, emotional and depleted.
If this blog post is clicking with you, and you've struggled with anxiety or depression in the past, I highly suggest taking this testto find out which amino acids you are deficient in. Once you figure it out, check out this amino acid chart to find out which amino acid you can began supplementing into your diet. I also highly recommend reading The Mood Cure and The Diet Cure by Julia Ross. If you don't have time to read the book, ask yourself if you have time to feel like shit?! Too harsh? There is so much more to learn and her books are life-changing on so many levels! The underlying concepts bring us back to the idea that our bodies are brilliant when given the proper nutrients needed to function.
For the record, I am no longer on anti-depressants! In fact, it’s been almost four years! While I supplemented L-tyrosine and GABA for quite a while to rebuild my amino acid storage, I now get my nutrients from the food I eat. When my moods get icky, the first thing I look at is my food intake. One too many trips to U-Swirl and overindulging in white carbs and sugar reak havoc on my energy and moods. (Trust me, I'm far from perfect with eating!) Incresing my protein, healthy fats and upping my water intake is an almost instant cure for me.
**Always remember I am not a doctor. (I just play one on this blog?!) If you’re on anti-depressants, it’s important to talk to your doctor first if you are thinking about alternative therapies. Amino Acid Therapy is something that worked for me but may not work for everyone. I used it in conjunction with other healing modalities. If you'd like extra guidance, I am currently taking clients and have a very limited number of spaces available. If you choose to venture alone with your healing remeber toAlways take precauations when using amino acids.