36 min

Discover How Food Can Impact Depression, Anxiety And Mental Health With Dr. Monique Aucoin, ND Senior Research Fellow at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine The Produce Moms Podcast

    • Health & Fitness

“We’re trying to understand how different foods and different eating patterns impact anxiety and psychosis disorders.”
 
Dr. Monique Aucoin (5:44-5:51)
 
Dr. Monique Aucoin is a naturopathic doctor and senior research fellow at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, and also one of the leading North American researchers in the field of nutritional psychiatry (the use of nutrition in the prevention and treatment of mental illness). 
 
Not familiar with naturopathy, or confused on what it actually means? Dr. Aucoin says, “naturopathic medicine is a system of healthcare that combines scientific evidence with natural and traditional approaches like nutrition, herbal medicine and lifestyle counseling. Naturopathic wellness aims to address the root cause of illness and to promote wellness.”
 
Sure, we already have social treatments like therapy for mental health, but some people don’t find the type of treatment we have available helpful or tolerable, so we need to have other approaches available. Our current medical system isn’t reflecting the huge role diet plays in mental health. Offering dietary counseling to people experiencing mental illness is an opportunity to truly improve their health outcomes rather than just using medicine or social therapy. The problem also with our current clinical research is that it doesn’t tell us if, for example, someone became depressed because they’re eating poor quality nutrition, or they became depressed and as a result started eating poor quality nutrition. 
 
“On an intuitive level, most people know when they eat better, they feel better, both physically and emotionally.” Dr. Monique Aucoin (7:08-7:15) 
Dr. Aucoin is working with Dr. Laura LaChance to bring scientific evidence to the real world in a way that’s understandable and actionable. Most recently, they’ve put together a patient handout that talks about nutritional factors important for mental health and used lived-in experiences from those that struggle with mental illness in the process. These handouts are helping them speak to healthcare providers and train them on dietary counseling that can only further help their patients. 
 
Ever heard of the term “emotional eating”? It’s not just a phenomenon we joke about – it’s backed by science, too. A study was performed on animals where they caused the animal a small amount of stress and gave them foods high in sugar and fat, which resulted in a reduction of their levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This may be a great, short-term fix, but long-term the foods we choose when “emotionally eating”, for example, can negatively impact our mental health.
 
Another clinical trial is being performed now to find out whether or not a food is causing a worsening or an improvement to mental health issues. A study called “Smiles” recently showed a large decrease in depression symptoms after 12 weeks of dietary counseling, with a quarter of individuals in the study no longer having depression at all. Dr. Aucoin and Dr. LaChance just received funding to perform their own similar clinical trial with those who have anxiety!
 
So, if you’re struggling with depression, anxiety or other mental health issues, what does Dr. Aucoin suggest you do with your diet? The top three nutritional factors in supporting brain and mental health are eating enough protein, eating anti-inflammatory foods and choosing complex carbs instead of simple sugars. Why? The brain is sensitive to the amount of sugar in our blood. Ever felt “hangry” before? That’s because your blood sugar is low (there’s a huge overlap between low blood sugar symptoms and mental health sugars). If you then eat something that’s high in simple carbs or sugars, it’ll disrupt your blood sugar balance even more.
 
“Steering away from simple carbs and choosing foods that have more fiber can have a huge impact on mental health outcomes.” Dr. Monique Aucoin

“We’re trying to understand how different foods and different eating patterns impact anxiety and psychosis disorders.”
 
Dr. Monique Aucoin (5:44-5:51)
 
Dr. Monique Aucoin is a naturopathic doctor and senior research fellow at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, and also one of the leading North American researchers in the field of nutritional psychiatry (the use of nutrition in the prevention and treatment of mental illness). 
 
Not familiar with naturopathy, or confused on what it actually means? Dr. Aucoin says, “naturopathic medicine is a system of healthcare that combines scientific evidence with natural and traditional approaches like nutrition, herbal medicine and lifestyle counseling. Naturopathic wellness aims to address the root cause of illness and to promote wellness.”
 
Sure, we already have social treatments like therapy for mental health, but some people don’t find the type of treatment we have available helpful or tolerable, so we need to have other approaches available. Our current medical system isn’t reflecting the huge role diet plays in mental health. Offering dietary counseling to people experiencing mental illness is an opportunity to truly improve their health outcomes rather than just using medicine or social therapy. The problem also with our current clinical research is that it doesn’t tell us if, for example, someone became depressed because they’re eating poor quality nutrition, or they became depressed and as a result started eating poor quality nutrition. 
 
“On an intuitive level, most people know when they eat better, they feel better, both physically and emotionally.” Dr. Monique Aucoin (7:08-7:15) 
Dr. Aucoin is working with Dr. Laura LaChance to bring scientific evidence to the real world in a way that’s understandable and actionable. Most recently, they’ve put together a patient handout that talks about nutritional factors important for mental health and used lived-in experiences from those that struggle with mental illness in the process. These handouts are helping them speak to healthcare providers and train them on dietary counseling that can only further help their patients. 
 
Ever heard of the term “emotional eating”? It’s not just a phenomenon we joke about – it’s backed by science, too. A study was performed on animals where they caused the animal a small amount of stress and gave them foods high in sugar and fat, which resulted in a reduction of their levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This may be a great, short-term fix, but long-term the foods we choose when “emotionally eating”, for example, can negatively impact our mental health.
 
Another clinical trial is being performed now to find out whether or not a food is causing a worsening or an improvement to mental health issues. A study called “Smiles” recently showed a large decrease in depression symptoms after 12 weeks of dietary counseling, with a quarter of individuals in the study no longer having depression at all. Dr. Aucoin and Dr. LaChance just received funding to perform their own similar clinical trial with those who have anxiety!
 
So, if you’re struggling with depression, anxiety or other mental health issues, what does Dr. Aucoin suggest you do with your diet? The top three nutritional factors in supporting brain and mental health are eating enough protein, eating anti-inflammatory foods and choosing complex carbs instead of simple sugars. Why? The brain is sensitive to the amount of sugar in our blood. Ever felt “hangry” before? That’s because your blood sugar is low (there’s a huge overlap between low blood sugar symptoms and mental health sugars). If you then eat something that’s high in simple carbs or sugars, it’ll disrupt your blood sugar balance even more.
 
“Steering away from simple carbs and choosing foods that have more fiber can have a huge impact on mental health outcomes.” Dr. Monique Aucoin

36 min

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