The Holistic Medicine Podcast by Dr Julie Moltke

E7 The relationship between gut health, mood and mental health with nutritionist Clarissa Lenherr

November 02, 2020 Dr Julie Moltke Season 1 Episode 7
The Holistic Medicine Podcast by Dr Julie Moltke
E7 The relationship between gut health, mood and mental health with nutritionist Clarissa Lenherr
Show Notes

Clarissa Lenherr is a Harley Street registered nutritionist and leading workplace wellbeing consultant. As a private nutritionist, Clarissa has helped hundreds of clients back to optimal health and she specialises in digestive health, auto-immune conditions, and hormone health. Her mission is to take the science of nutrition and convert it into easy to implement strategies so that her clients can achieve ultimate wellbeing. 

4:30 - What is the enteric nervous system: the connection of nerve fibers in the gut is called the enteric nervous system (ENS) and it is sometimes called the second brain. 

8:10 - The brain-gut connection: There is a bidirectional link between the central nervous system and the enteric nervous system in the gut.

12:50: The microbiome is a collection of bacteria that live in our gut. Some of them produce neurotransmitters including serotonin, GABA, and dopamine. 95% of serotonin, one of the most important hormones for mental health, is made in the gut. 70% of the immune system is in the gut which is why an unhealthy gut is often associated with poor immune health, autoimmune disease, and inflammation. 

15:10 - Can stress, anxiety, and mental health disorders originate from the gut?

18:30 - How can we use nutrition to improve gut health and mood? Disclaimer: if you have a preexisting medical concern you should see a doctor or nutritionist 

Tips to improve gut health and mood

  • 30 grams of fiber per day (The average consumes only eats 18 grams) - It benefits digestive health, heart, and liver health. It feeds the good bacteria and can improve constipation dominant IBS.
  • Prebiotic fibers are insoluble and they are hard to break down in the gut. It moves whole to the large intestine where the gut-bacteria eat them and produce by-products including short-chained fatty-acids (SCFA). 
  • Some prebiotic foods are: Artichokes, Asparagus, bananas, barley, berries, chicory, garlic, green vegetables
  • Probiotics: food or supplements containing live-bacteria to support our microbiome. They can be found in fermented food like kefir and live yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi, tempeh, and soy. Can be used 3 times/week. Or take probiotics in supplement form.  
  • Start low and go slow: Too many fibers and probiotics can cause bloating and diarrhea so start slowly when increasing fiber intake. 
  • Red wine can be good for the microbiome in small quantities

Stay away from: 

  • Processed meats and processed food
  • Contains lots of nitrate and unhealthy fats 
  • Sweeteners have been shown to reduce the diversity in the microbiome 
  • Stay away from chewing gum which contains a lot of sweeteners 
  • Be cautious with caffeine which can cause bloating and diarrhea 
  • Alcohol affects our absorption of nutritions and our mood and sleep. 
  • Refined sugar - less than 30 grams per day

30:20: Can food reduce symptoms of anxiety and stress? Simple diet changes to a whole-food, high in fruits and vegetables. Nutrients to support mental health:

  • Omega-3: From fatty-fish like salmon and mackerel, chia seeds and walnuts  
  • Vitamin-3: diary milk-foods, eggs, mushrooms, and from the sunshine. As a supplement - recommended dose: 25-50 microgram/day. 

35:10 Is intermittent-fasting good for gut-health and mood? Fasting can help the digestive system to fully clear out and reset. 

Tips:  Have 12-16 hours fasting period overnight (start low and go slow)

  • 4-hour gaps between meals
  • Reduce snacking (not for people with diabetes, pregnancy, or high-stress levels)
  • You can have water, tea or black coffee
  • Eat a balanced diet in the 8 hours - eat the colors of the rainbow, hydrate, and drink lots of water