I’d like to introduce you to Alison Tehan a university qualified Nutritionist and Health and Wellness Coach in Mt Eliza on the Mornington Peninsula. Alison is passionate about helping people understand how whole food nutrition is vital to achieve optimum health and wellbeing.
Alison’s approach to nutrition is focussed on building long-term, nourishing eating habits that promote healthy outcomes. She provides her clients with a holistic, realistic and individual approach to a nutrition plan that leads to improved health choices that work for them. She encourages a healthy relationship with food without the guilt and recommends beneficial and sustainable eating habits with no fad diets!
Alison supports people to reconnect and learn to trust their own intuition around food. She provides a relaxed and supportive environment for those faced with illness or a specific health concern, or simply looking to improve overall health.
Alison’s clinical focus is on weight management, women’s health, irritable bowel syndrome, digestion issues, weight loss and sports nutrition.
Ali and I met working together on a project promoting women’s health in the golf industry. A lot of Ali’s clients are golfers who reap the benefits of her profession to add to their healthy lifestyle.
Dealing with Covid 19 has had an overwhelming impact on us all and I’ve found myself looking for extra support to keep positive and to keep a healthy mindset. I have added a couple of Ali’s research articles on the benefits of nutrition and the value it can add to your lifestyle.
How food affects your mood …
Many of us do not think about how food can impact the way we feel, but we all know the feeling of using food as a short term pick-me-up. When we are feeling a little tired, stressed or bored, we often reach for a sugary snack to help us feel good. But, this can actually make things worse in the long term.
Australian researchers have recently confirmed that unhealthy diet and mental ill health are linked. One study showed that a modified Mediterranean diet significantly helped patients with severe depression within 12 weeks. An unhealthy diet, whether it’s too much junk food, or not enough ‘nutrient-dense’ foods, or both, is a risk factor for depression and anxiety. It also appears to be a risk factor for more general emotional dysregulation in children.
Better quality diets reduce your risk of depression, while diets which high in processed foods – are associated with increased depression and often anxiety.
An ideal diet should be filled with plant foods such as vegetables, salads, fruits, legumes (eg. chickpeas, lentils, tofu), wholegrains and raw nuts; fish and lean red meats; and healthy fats such as olive oil. At the same time, processed foods should be avoided.
There are two consequences of a poor diet that impact our immune system, gut bacteria, and parts of our brain function. If we do not consume enough nutrient-dense foods this can lead to nutrient deficiencies, and this has a detrimental impact on our immune system, brain health as well as affecting gene expression and our gut microbiota. Importantly, our gut microbiota depend on an adequate intake of dietary fibre.
Here are some easy tips to help improve your mood.
Reduce sugar and processed foods
Low and falling blood sugar levels can cause a rise in your body’s stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline. Processed food also contains artificial sweeteners and emulsifiers that can interfere with your good gut bacteria allowing harmful pathogens to dominate. Processed food has a negative impact on the brain proteins that are important in protecting it against oxidative stress and promoting the growth of new brain cells.
Increase healthy fats
Healthy fats reduce inflammation throughout the body and are essential for brain function. Foods high in good fats include extra virgin olive oil, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, anchovies), avocado, seeds, walnuts, flaxseed and leafy vegetables.
Increase vegetable intake
Vegetables contain nutrients such as B vitamins, fibre and phytochemicals our bodies need. Antioxidants and B vitamins in vegetables affect neurotransmitters that impact mood. Certain deficiencies in B vitamins have been linked to depression, as serotonin production can actually be hindered by low B vitamin levels.
Feed your gut bugs
Having a healthy population of gut bacteria can significantly influence your mood via the gut-brain axis.
The prebiotic fibre contained in vegetables help to feed your gut bugs to thrive, so the best way to maintain a healthy population is to increase your intake of vegetables, such leeks, onions, garlic, artichokes and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.
Fermented foods help populate and balance your good bacteria such as sauerkraut and miso.
Of course, there can be many other factors to consider with mental health problems and it is always important to seek advice from a qualified health professional but we should not underestimate the power of changing our food to improve our mood.
Supporting your immune health through Winter…
It’s almost Winter and eating well and keeping the body well nourished through the colder months can seem more challenging with an increased desire to reach for those heavy comfort foods.
Nourishing your gut throughout winter is important to reduce the chances of prolonged sickness and viruses can become rampant right now.
I recommend embracing the season and enjoying the more slow cooked foods, soups and protein rich meals that are nourishing and warm the body.
Focussing on foods that are rich in vitamin C, E and antioxidants such as pumpkin, sweet potato, brazil nuts, mushrooms and spinach are great for supporting the immune system. To prevent infections, increase your intake of zinc, which is found in hemp and pumpkin seeds, fish, eggs and unprocessed grains. If you eat oysters and beef regularly that’s good news as they are richest sources of zinc.
In addition your diet should be full of different types of fibre to encourage a healthy levels of good bacteria, which protect your body from infections and regulate your immune system. Good sources of fibre include garlic, onion, leek, asparagus, ground flaxseed, lentils, chickpeas, buckwheat, oats, berries, plums and apples.
Lastly make sure you are getting out in the sunshine when you can to soak up your vitamin D. The sun is our best source of vitamin D and we need our levels to be optimal to protect us from respiratory tract infections. Vitamin D helps build immunity and supports our body to fight and protect us from viral infections. If you are low in Vitamin D I recommend you talk to a practitioner about sourcing a good supplement to get you through the Winter months.
Our immune system is complicated and there’s no magic pill to avoid some bugs. However a rich and diverse plant based diet with small lifestyle changes ensure you’re in the best form for winter. Eat the rainbow, sleep 7 hours most nights, manage your stress levels and move every day; your body will thank you for it.
Appointments are available online only during this current pandemic during business hours and after hours. For any enquiries or to make an appointment, please call 0410 413 024 or use the contact form. I will be in touch with you within 24 hours. Due to the current pandemic situation I am offering online consultations via zoom or Skype only.
My consulting room is in Mount Eliza and I also provide appointments at Enhanced Wellbeing in Mornington.
Skype appointments are also available.