Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food
Updated: Apr 27
Katie Dobiesz BSc ( Hons)PGCHE MNIMH
Medical herbalist, nutrition teacher and well-being advisor
Senior lecturer on the BSC degree in clinical herbalism at Lincoln College
Private Practice in Lincolnshire
Zoom and face time consultations.
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” This famous quote is often attributed to Hippocrates. He also stated that 'All Disease Begins in the Gut'
Today many diseases and mental health conditions have been linked to our ‘enteric nervous’ system our GUT Brain. That feeling you have in your belly is part of your nervous system and so linked to your mental health. Keeping your digestive system healthy is so important. A well-nourished body and brain is more able to withstand ongoing stress and recover from illness. Therefore it is important to eat well to stay healthy and keep your mind working to its optimum. Poor nutrition is a significant and modifiable influence on mental health and rates of mental illness are on the rise.
Treating your mental health with good nutrition and micronutrients/vitamins could benefit mental health and wellbeing. More scientific research is now linking emotional health and wellbeing to what we eat. Patients who consume a diet rich in high-fat dairy products and fried, refined, and sugary foods are at increased risk of developing depression, whereas those whose diet is rich in fish, fruit, and vegetables are at lower risk of developing depression. Some new scientific studies show that lower intakes of nutrient-dense foods and higher intakes of unhealthy foods are each independently linked to poor mental health well being
So what should I eat it’s so confusing?
The Mediterranean Diet has been found to lead to a reduction in anxiety and depression. It is more about what you’re adding in — fresh fruits and vegetables, protein-rich legumes, and fatty fish and olive oil (high in omega-3s) the good fats which help to reduce inflammation.
Eating fresh whole foods and avoiding take- away, processed foods and fizzy drinks.
So eating food as close to nature as possible and not out of a packet. A study looked at 166 people who were clinically depressed, some being treated with medication. The researchers found that after 12 weeks of eating a modified Mediterranean diet, the participants’ symptoms were significantly better.
Get your starch fix with whole grains and legumes. Fill up on plenty of fruits and veggies.Focus on eating fatty fish, like salmon or tuna, in place of red meat. Add in healthy fats, like raw nuts and olive oil. Enjoy sweets and wine in moderation.
Depression and anxiety can also be due to fluctuating blood sugar levels. Comfort eating and/or hypoglycaemia are telltale signs and so easy to do in the work place. Avoid alcohol (acts as a depressant) a bit of red wine can be beneficial but keep to the minimum units per week and avoid at lunchtime cut out stimulants too much coffee, chocolate and tea (adrenals already working overtime)
Keep simple sugars to a minimum Ensure adequate B vitamins, so fresh fruit and salads eat protein and unrefined carbohydrate More fruit/nuts, brown rice/fish; nuts, seeds, beans, lentils
It is important to have good fats in your diet so including olive oil, fish, avocadoes, plenty of nuts and seeds and avoiding low fat processed food which may be high in sugar
Don’t forget Vitamin D
Many people in the UK are Vitamin D deficient unless spending time outdoors
Low Vitamin D may contribute to depression so you need to get outside more, at least 15 minutes of sunlight a day.