The ‘energy – mental health’ Connection

Energy is intimately related with mental health. Lack of energy and tiredness/fatigue/exhaustion can either be an aggravating or causative factor of mental health conditions. It is said “If you have energy you can’t be depressed”. This is true in general of all mental health presentations including the majority of cases of schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, bipolar, ADD, and OCD. Without energy molecules the brain can’t do its job. Orthomolecular nutrient correcting treatments are ideal for energy maintenance.

From glucose the body makes ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy molecule used to drive most all non-passive metabolic processes.

At the root of the problem, from a clinical perspective, we therefore see the need to improve energy metabolism by assessing and treating energy associated nutrient imbalances.

Hypoglycemic energy fluctuations

The brain is a demanding organ with its need to maintain high blood volumes and a ready supply of glucose (sugar). Brain function is the first to suffer when there is a glucose supply interruption. In glucose deprived (hypoglycemic) states our brain has reduced abilities and it becomes difficult for the brain to make neurotransmitters on demand to regulate mood, thinking and perception (sensory input of information received from the environment). This occurs often in people with low protein diets as protein provides a slow and steady release of sugar to the blood stream (gluconeogenesis). To meet the nutritional demand for high quality protein, meat and eggs tend to be the high quality protein sources of choice.

Hypoglycemic symptoms

Hypoglycemia affects our mental and physical state.

Common hypoglycemic symptoms include tiredness/fatigue, confusion, poor decision making, irritability, criminal behavior, schizophrenia, and mood disorders (depression, anxiety, bipolar mood swings). 

Poor digestion, poor nutrient absorption, poor energy

It makes sense that we support our body in its efforts to absorb food efficiently in order to derive energy. We can do this by having good eating habits and eating high quality foods. From food we get the nutrient building blocks and cofactors needed to manufacture ATP, so you have energy on demand. Basic building blocks are derived from a sufficient intake of fat, protein and carbohydrates.

Do you eat high quality food sources?

High quality food is also important. Many grocery stores are full of processed food items in the center isles, so it is best to spend more time shopping on the periphery. Organic food and hormone free meat can improve your energy level as well because the body spends less time detoxifying pesticides and synthetic hormones.

With a carbohydrate dominant diet (the North American way) we suffer the consequences of having an inadequate supply of building blocks from protein and fat. Fat for example, is the scaffold for hormones such as thyroid hormone. Every meal therefore should contain adequate meat or eggs to provide a quality source of protein and fat.

Good eating habits

Good eating habits aid digestion and improve the likelihood of better nutrient absorption. Good eating habits include taking the time to eat regularly, eating protein (versus high carbohydrate) whole food snacks, eating warm foods and drinks (versus eating right out of the refrigerator), sitting to eat (versus eating on the run), and avoiding junk food and foods that make you sick. Drink water throughout the day without ice; adults should consume around 2 liters of water a day. Eat fruit away from meals. Remember to eat your greens and a colourful array of vegetables. 

In our next blog: I’m so Tired: Part 2

Cells making energy from glucose

Does your body make energy too fast or too slow?

What does Hair Tissue (Cellular) Mineral Analysis (HTMA) tell you about energy metabolism?