Tuesday 21 June 2016

Nutrition for Anxiety and Depression

Guest Blog by Lottie Maria, Health and Nutrition writer, blogger at Beauty Science Magic, Neuroscientist and Clinical Nutrition student.

I used to suffer very badly from anxiety and remember the frustration of not knowing how to treat it. I realised that a lot could actually be done in terms of self care, diet and lifestyle. In particular, I learnt how some foods were over-stimulating for my body, and I was sensitive to them; for example, if I had a really sugary meal, or lots of chocolate or caffeine (even from a coffee) my heart would race and this would instigate anxiety and sometimes, a full blown panic attack. I also noticed how having low blood sugar levels also contributed to a feeling of nervousness, anxiety and low moods. I decided to try and conquer my anxiety and aimed to eat nourishing, whole foods and ditching sugary, over stimulating foods with minimal nutritional benefit. Here are my top tips for nutrition and eating to boost mood and well-being.

1. Eat colourful foods and prepare meals in advance 

Beautiful, vibrant meals and healthy comfort food and taking the time to do this is an incredibly important part of self care. We are incredibly visual and eating attractive, delicious, colourful food is mood boosting in itself. Sometimes motivation may be lacking, but put a load of roast vegetables in the oven and when cooked, mix with quinoa, salad and nuts, or humous and you can have for lunch and dinner for the next day.

  • Roast chopped sweet potatoes in the oven with olive oil, garlic cloves and smoked paprika until soft and brown. Mix with avocado, plum tomatoes and chickpeas. 
  • Try a rainbow salad or rainbow pizza. Mix tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, carrots, sliced oranges, sweetcorn, spinach, avocado and beetroot with your favourite dressing. I love balsamic, olive oil, and ground almonds. Top with roasted seeds or nuts. For a pizza, layer all of your favourite vegetables on a pizza base.

2. Avoid sugar crashes, and keep your electrolytes in check. 

I always try and eat foods full of potassium, magnesium, calcium and zinc as I know they are really important to nervous system health. I can get mood lows if I go periods without eating so I always carry a bag of mixed nuts and raisins, dried fruit, oat cakes, coconut water, or a banana to help keep my moods consistent and sugar levels the same. My go-to energy snack is oatcakes with peanut butter and chopped fruit - full of sustained energy and protein.

3. Eat foods rich in B-vitamins, selenium, and essential fatty acids

Certain B-vitamins have been shown to have mood boosting effects in depression, and they also help with vital energy metabolism, which could help sustain energy and release energy from food. Low levels of certain B vitamins are linked to depression and post-natal depression. The best sources of B vitamins nutrients include leafy greens, and fortified cereals. B vitamins work best taken with other B vitamins as a complex, feel free to speak to your doctor about this supplement.

Essential fatty acids

Essential fatty acids such Omega 3, 6 and 9 have been found to elicit an anti-depressant effect due to their role in neurotransmitter synthesis and function. I often add flax seed oil and avocado into a smoothie in the morning, which is a great way of getting these fatty acids into my diet at the beginning of the day.


A study by Dr David Benton at the University of Wales found that low selenium levels is associated with depression and low mood. Dr Benton also found selenium supplementation to improve mood and reduces anxiety symptoms. Foods rich in selenium include: brazil nuts, cashew nuts and sunflower seeds.

Read more about health, nutrition and beauty products at: Beauty Science Magic "The science behind the beauty".


Thursday 2 June 2016

Guest Blog: Things I Wish I Knew - In Loving Memory of Saagar Naresh, by Sangeeta Mahajan

This is a guest blog by consultant anaesthetist Dr Sangeeta Mahajan, mental health activist and blogger.

It was a tsunami that hit and took off chunks of my heart, my reality, sanity and future with it. I was utterly unprepared for the nightmare that was about to ensue.

One sunny autumn afternoon 18 months ago, two policemen showed up at my doorstep to tell me that my son’s body had been found nearby. Apparently Saagar had ended his own life. They handed me his belongings but I was convinced they had made a mistake. This was not within the realm of possibilities.

He is a handsome talented young man of 20 with a fabulous education and everything to live for. How could this be? He had a recent diagnosis of bipolar disorder but the doctors had me believe that he was getting better. No one ever mentioned the word ‘suicide’ to me.

I was numb but something in me had a strong desire to write. Having never written or read a blog before, we set up an account and I started writing kidsaregifts the same night and have written every day since. Its my way of spending time with Saagar, healing and sharing what I learn.

Things I wish I knew

I could write a book on the things I wish I had known.
I know a few of them now but he's already gone.
I wish I'd known that self-destructive, suicidal thoughts can come to anyone, at any time, irrespective of how good-looking, clever or wealthy they are or what race, religion, sex or profession they belong to.
I wish I knew that suicide claims the precious lives of many a young men every year.
I wish I knew how difficult it is for those having these treacherous thoughts to talk about them and ask for help.
I wish I knew the accompanying shame and guilt as though it was their own fault.
I wish I knew how unwell he was.
I wish I could see his soul invisibly bleeding to death.
I wish his doctor could see it.
I wish the medication he was put on had been the right one for him.
I wish someone had told me the warning signs to watch out for and recognise 'crisis' when it happened.
I wish I knew how to read into his desperation and help him open up, feeling safe.
I wish I knew how to break through the wall of silence that surrounded him.
I wish I knew that he meant 'suicidal thoughts' when he said 'random thoughts'.
I wish I understood his pain and confusion.
I wish I knew that despite having the world at his feet he secretly wanted to escape from it.
I wish that I knew that even though he was my darling son and was only 20, he could die.

Most of all I wish I knew how to think and talk about suicide.

Sagaar Naresh

To read other articles Sangeeta has written see below:

1. For Mental Health Awareness Week 2016:  http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/sangeeta-mahajan/mental-health-awareness-week_b_9865518.html

2. Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/11854612/Im-a-doctor-but-that-didnt-save-my-son-from-suicide.html

3.  Huffington post: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/sangeeta-mahajan/suicide-the-silent-epidemic_b_8904102.html

4. Blog in the memory of Saagar: www.kidsaregifts.wordpress.com

"I started writing it on the day he passed away and have been writing everyday since. It helps me and I think it helps others too. I was pretty blank when I started writing it but the intention must have been to stop this from happening to other parents. It starts from day 0 in October 2014 (in archives)."


If you or someone you love is in mental health crisis (UK), please contact the
Samaritans on 116 123.

Opening times: 24 hours, 7 days a week
Website: www.samaritans.org

Or see our Suicide Prevention Resources page on our website.

Or download the free #StayAlive Suicide Prevention App: find out more here.