23 / September / 2020

“Sometimes it’s the biggest smiles hiding the deepest secrets, the prettiest eyes that have cried the most tears, and the kindest hearts that have felt the most pain.” 

It’s MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK here in NZ and this is a topic that is so very near and dear to my heart. However, it is not talked about all that often… so I am here to change that! 

Having lost people around me to mental illness, experienced mental health issues myself and working in the wellness industry, it is actually far more common than people think. 

It literally breaks my heart to see and hear some of the pain and stories that people tell me or are going through, and so often I think we can become so consumed with our own lives it can be easy to forget to check in with those we love the most. 

Part of my mission and purpose on this earth is to help others heal, and this is often deeper than just the physical level, it can come in the form of self-love, self-worth, healing childhood wounds, or battles with anxiety, or depression.

New Zealand has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, and many would argue that we live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. 

Whilst I am not here to speculate, I know the impact of the lockdowns, social distancing, and just 2020 in general has taken its toll on people. 

In fact, it has been reported 1 in 5 people have thought about committing suicide in the past few months in New Zealand. So it is impacting far more of us than you may think. 

I personally battled with mild anxiety, I was also in a state of such poor health in terms of my gut, and lack of self-worth that did lead me down a rather dark path of thoughts in my mind. 

I was fortunate enough to be made aware of what was actually going on in my body to do the healing work, and had the love and support of those around me that things began to shift. 

My journey however, is incredibly light compared to what I have witnessed, and experienced with those around me. I see clients on anti-depressants and/or anti-anxiety medication come to me on a daily basis. 

This is what breaks my heart! 

When I first started studying nutrition, I had no idea the impact food had on our mental state, nor the link between gut health and mental health! 

Through my own journey of healing my gut, and taking my clients through the same processes, it has been so beautiful to witness the shifts mentally! 

I’ve had clients come off anti-anxiety medication and antidepressants, turn their lives around, and change the way they look at themselves and the world by healing what was going on inside (and not just in the mind)! 

Did you know that up to 95% (depending which study you read), of your serotonin a.k.a. your happiness or feel good hormone is produced in your gut!!

Serotonin is actually a natural antidepressant! However, it is naturally depleted by things such as recreational drugs and alcohol, as well as having an imbalance of your gut microbiome (good and bad bacteria). 

So, if your gut isn’t happy and healthy and able to produce serotonin, it’s going to have a negative impact on your mental state, not just your physical health! 

In fact, your gut actually acts like a second brain (they are even made up of the same tissue!)

The brain and gut are connected and also communicate through something called the VAGUS NERVE which relays messages about our physical and mental well-being between the two! 

Crazy right! 

Your diet and lifestyle choices play far more of a role in your mental health than you may have ever considered. The great news is, it’s never too late to start making gentle shifts and changes feel better from the inside out!

My Top Tips Include:

–  Removing foods high in processed sugars – this feeds the bad guys in your gut causing the imbalance to worsen and affecting the production and effects of serotonin!

–  Limiting alcohol consumption – as it is a natural depressant, and can have a dramatic affect on mood. It actually chemically alters the brain, lowering serotonin levels (our happy hormone remember).

–  Exercise regularly, even if it is just for 20 minutes a day a few times a week – this promotes the release of endorphins, stimulates the brain, encourages blood flow, reduces stress, helps balance out the bacteria in your gut, and results in a clearer mental state.

–  Eat a well-balanced diet full of wholefoods and micronutrients, to fuel the body and the mind providing it with the nutrients it needs to function optimally.

–  Consider looking into an omega 3 supplement; my favourites being BePure Three and Nordic Naturals  there have been studies to show this can help with anxiety levels.

–  Get your vitamin D! Just think about how good you feel being out in the sunshine, low levels of vitamin D has been linked to low mood, anxiety and depression… so enjoy your 15 – 20 minutes of sun time a day, or again look at adding in a supplement.

–  Consider the medication you are on that could be playing a role – e.g. the oral contraceptive pill has been linked to low mood, increased anxiety and depression (and I can speak to this first hand, my anxiety started when I was on the pill, and I couldn’t believe the clarity and change in mood I felt coming off… Oh and I haven’t had an anxiety attack since).

Side note: please check with your doctor before coming off any medication!

–  Get enough sleep! Sleep has a dramatic impact on every single function in the body, including our mental health (have you ever noticed how a bad night’s sleep often results in a poor mood in the morning… it goes a lot deeper than that in the science, but that’s enough evidence for me!)


Finally, I just wanted to pop in a little note to send yourself some love! Know that it is okay not to feel okay, that there are going to be days that you may not feel like your best self, we can’t be perfect and happy all of the time. 

However, if you start to notice that it’s a bit of a trend, and your mood is constantly low, reach out for some support, talk to a friend, consult your doctor. Awareness is the first step in taking action. 

And… if you are not facing any mental health issues, remember, everyone is on their own journey and we often don’t know what is going on in someone’s mind, the best thing we can do is be there as a listening ear and take care of our own mental health too! (Of course, reaching out for extra support if we feel someone needs it too though). I’ve popped a link to the helplines below.

So, as part of mental health awareness week (and as an ongoing practice), check in on those around you, even the ones smiling the most and with the most positive energy, sometimes they are the ones hurting the most!

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