Omega 3 supplements for depression and anxiety?

The Autoimmune Disease Series



In this blog I am going to show you just how crucial omega 3 fatty acids are for your brain and nervous system.  This will be especially important if some of the symptoms of your autoimmune disease include anxiety or depression.

  • Fats make up around 60% of your brain and the nerves that send out messages to your entire body, signalling to every system within it.
  • Of these fats the Omega 3’s play a paramount role, offering profound anti-aging effects on the structure and function of the brain, from cognition and memory to mental health and the prevention of Alzheimer’s.
  • Omega 3’s have recently been associated with increased volume of the brain’s grey matter, particularly in those parts of the brain associated with happiness, and they boost intelligence by enhancing brain function from birth onwards.
  • These fatty acids support the structure of  brain cells, which in turn contributes to the increase in the production of critical neurotransmitters, and reduce oxidative and inflammatory damage.
  • Ranges of 1,000-3,000 mg of EPA and 1,000-1,500 mg of DHA have been found to bring about significant improvements in symptoms of depression, aggression, and other mental disorders, in addition as providing protection against early cognitive decline and even early Alzheimer’s disease.

Healthy brain cells are composed of both omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, they help to form the cell membrane and they also form the building blocks of the transport system of your cells.  This vitally allows us to keep fluids in the right place.

Your mood, energy and your ability to think clearly can all be affected by even mild dehydration.  When your body is dehydrated your blood does not flow so freely, hormones don’t reach their destination, muscles may constrict making you feel tense and your brain will sense the water loss.  For some people the muscle weakness, headaches, low blood pressure, lightheadedness and increased heart rate may trigger panic attacks.

The point here is that fatty acids help you to keep your body fluid in the right place – helping you to stay hydrated.

People living in arid countries also have ways to maintain hydration within their culture.  For example, in Morocco the women working in the fields don’t take a lot of water with them; instead they take freshly pressed argon oil.  We see here how certain cultures have retained the knowledge that a very important ingredient for maintaining hydration is oil containing fatty acids.

Barbara Wren – Cellular Awakening

Eating the wrong kinds of fats can cause the brain cells to be compromised as the body struggles to make up the cell membrane from inappropriate fats, contributing to poor brain function.

If we understand anxiety and depression to be largely issues of the brain and mind, then supporting the regeneration of brain cells, may play a pivotal role in alleviating symptoms.

Clinical trials have implied benefits of supplemental omega 3 fatty acids on brain function and mood:

People who get more omega-3s actually have bigger, more functional brains.

In fact, the serotonin-related benefits of omega-3 supplementation are powerful enough to stand up to a head-to-head comparison with fluoxetine (Prozac®), a common and highly effective member of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) category of modern antidepressants.32 In that study, 50% of subjects responded well to fluoxetine alone, 56% to EPA supplementation (1,000 mg), and an impressive 81% in people who took both forms of treatment.32

 Ensuring therapeutic doses of Omega 3’s may help to lower some of your auto immune symptoms.  In this article I have focused on what omega 3’s can do for your brain, mood and anxiety symptoms.  Do not forget that this amazing fatty acid will also help you to lower inflammation in your body.

Take supplements, eat freshly ground flax seed every day – boost your levels, enhance your mood.

Wishing you every  happiness

Gemma x

Can this turn around for autism prove to be a vital link in your own autoimmune disease symptoms?

The Autoimmune Disease Series

 When I watched this TEDx talk I was moved to tears and I realised that it had to be my blog of the week.  I can’t say it enough, go back to basics; home cooking, food that you recognise…but watch out for the bouillon!

With Love

Why the stress in your life might be the number one reason that you are still sick with an autoimmune disease.

stress matches

“I think nutrition certainly plays a strong role but we’d be kidding ourselves if we didn’t acknowledge the role that I  think increasing stress of modern life plays in the rising incidence of autoimmune disease”  Chris Kesser

The Autoimmune Disease Series

 This week I am going to examine some research that shows us how stress, in whatever form it takes, can create a chemical cascade in the body that results in inflammation.

Inflammation in turn causes a leaky gut.
Alessio Fasano, MD, Medical Director of the Center for Celiac Research , a cutting edge researcher into autoimmune disease, explains that a compromised gut, is one of three key components in autoimmune disease.

So this week we are going to look at the following:

  • Stress and inflammation, why this can be a viscous cycle.
  • Understanding that there are many different types of stress.
  • Examining three factors involved in autoimmunity.
  • Introducing Zonulin, a protein that regulates the tight junctions in your gut.
  • Switching off your fight or flight response – tips and tricks to lead a less stressful life.

If this all looks too complicated to you, the take away from this week’s blog is to identify the areas of stress in your life and find ways to cut them down or out.  Also look at some methods that can help you to relax and switch off your “fight or flight” response.

So it might be that you have made some great changes in your diet, you are taking anti inflammatory and supportive supplements and yet flare ups are still an issue.  Or maybe you are just at the beginning of your journey with an autoimmune disease; either way this session will be a really important one, so read on.

Now let us take a more in-depth view of what happens to your body when you suffer from stress:

Sheldon Cohen from Carnegie Mellon University says:

“Inflammation is partly regulated by the hormone cortisol and when cortisol is not allowed to serve this function, inflammation can get out of control.”

He has observed that long-term stress can alter the efficiency of cortisol to regulate your inflammation response.  This is because stress decreases your tissue sensitivity to cortisol, that is your immune cells become less-responsive to cortisol in a similar way to diabetics and insulin resistance.

This means that when your stress levels are chronic, you put yourself at risk of runaway inflammation which spins out the kind of symptoms that we see so often in autoimmune diseases.

Remember here that stress can take many, many forms, from a bad relationship with your mother, to overexercising; from damp and mouldy rented accommodation, to a gut infection; from spiraling debt, to shift work, or an injury.

Unfortunately it can take a lot of effort to break away from damaging behaviours, relationship conflicts and poor lifestyle choices.  There can be a downward spiraling of stress and the consequent  chronically inflamed picture that we see all too often.

So now is the time to tell yourself to step back, identify where the stress lies in your life, imagine how you would feel if you could shrug off that anxiety and address that toxic relationship, or change your working hours, stop driving yourself so hard.

Find another way forward.

In A Leaky Gut and Autoimmune Diseases, Alessio Fasano, offers an alternative theory on autoimmune disease, that is rapidly gaining support through the scientific studies that support his work.

To understand this we should first look at his earlier work where he describes a three legged stool approach to the model of autoimmunity.  He suggests that there are three vital components to autoimmune disease.  If any one of these components are not part of the picture, the symptoms do not appear.  The three are:

  1. A genetic predisposition
  2. An environmental trigger
  3. A leaky gut

A leaky gut is of particular importance in this trinity because it represents your body’s last chance.  If you already are genetically predisposed and you come under the influence of an environmental trigger all will be well if there are no holes in your gut.  It is only when this last line of defence is breached, that your body will initiate an immune response, generating inflammation not only in your gut but elsewhere in the body too.

Fasano explains in his recent paper that researchers have recently identified a protein called zonulin, which they have found regulates the tight junctions in your gut wall.

When zonulin levels rise, the tight junctions open partially and this is the moment when your gut integrity is breached,  now potential “triggers” may pass through into your blood stream.  This is when we will see your body mounting an immune response and presenting you with those flare-up symptoms that you know so well.

Gluten can increase zonulin levels in the body, but so too it appears can inflammation.  We have come full circle, to chronic stress which,  may well also increase zonulin levels in our body, contributing to one of the three legs of Fasano’s three legged stool of autoimmunity.

So how can you manage your stress?

When stressed or overwhelmed, the immediate relief is always in the softening, and the surrendering. Your surrounding world already offers its medicine everywhere. Place your hands in the soil to feel grounded. Wade into water to feel cleansed and healed. Fill your lungs with fresh air to feel mentally clear. Raise your face to the heat of the sun to feel your own immense power. You are part of the earth, and comprised of the very same elements. And this is something you should remember. – Victoria Erickson

  1. Look at food stressors such as the unhelpful foods that I listed in last weeks blog.  Look also for food triggers such as wheat or dairy and look to eliminate them for some time to see what an effect this has on your overall health.
  2. Get out in nature, better still take off your shoes and socks and get grounded on sand, grass or soil.
  3. Take time out to meditate, practice yoga, so breath work or visualisation exercises.
  4. Journalling – get your mental whirlwind down and out onto a page
  5. Slow down.  If you have a demanding and hectic job for instance, don’t head for the gym after work, stop pumping that adrenaline; go to a yoga session or for a sauna instead.  Take time to eat your meals (and chew them!).  Sit down at a table to enjoy home cooked food, cut down on food on the go.  Relax.
  6. Take responsibility for your own health and well being, set up a support team that is positive; friends, family, support group, yoga teacher and nutritionists can all offer help and advice at different times.
  7. Have an Epsom salt bath, to help you to relax and unwind after a long day.  You would be surprised how many clients I see that can’t even find time for this; they always use a shower because it is quicker.

Cutting out your stress might be one of the hardest changes that you need to make, but might also prove to be the most important one.  Lessen the “fight or flight” response and switch instead to “rest and digest”. Really this should be non-negotiable.  Lighten up your life.

“A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well”

Gemma x

Unhelpful Foods


The Autoimmune Disease Series

Dump the Junk – Unhelpful Foods

In this weeks blog I will be looking at why the food choices that you make, can have a drastic effect on your overall health and well being.  By cutting out challenging foods you can give your body the best chance of recovery from disease.
 To keep it simple I will first highlight six of the worst so called food offenders in terms of health impact:
  1. Trans fats, or hydrogenated fats ( these fats are found in biscuits, cakes, pastries and ready meals.  Flax oil or olive oil served cold, and coconut oil for frying and cooking should be used when recovering from disease).
  2. Sugar (natural sugars found in fruits are fine)
  3. GM foods, genetically modified foods (Fresh and organic foods should be the only choice when recovering from disease)
  4. Refined and Processed Foods
  5. Ready Meals and Takeaways
  6. Intensively Farmed Foods 

    I am not going to deal individually with each of these items, as most of this advice is already available elsewhere.The main point that I wish to make is that the food that you eat is meant to serve a purpose;  it is meant to fulfill your daily energy requirements and provide essential nutrients that your body can’t make itself.  Your body will use these nutrients to build and repair itself and to aid in enzyme and energy production in addition to many other crucial life processes.  Eating “hollow foods” that just provide energy is simply not enough.The problem with the “off limit” items listed above, is that they are seriously lacking the nutrients that are required for your body.  Modern processing methods strip the valuable nutrients from the foods, leaving them virtually redundant in terms of providing any kind of benefit to you.  In fact your body might actually be left off worse after their consumption.

    So if we take biscuits and most breakfast cereals as an example and the sugar hit that they provide, we can see where your problems can start:

    Dr Natasha Campbell Mc Bride highlights the fact that for every glucose sugar molecule that you eat – your body requires 28 magnesium molecules just to process it.

    Our soils are already massively depleted in this essential mineral:

“Do you know that most of us today are suffering from certain dangerous diet deficiencies which cannot be remedied until depleted soils from which our food comes are brought back into proper mineral balance? The alarming fact is that foods (fruits, vegetables, grains) now being raised on millions of acres of land that no longer contain enough of certain minerals are starving us—no matter how much of them we eat.”
This was a warning given back in 1936 by  74th Congress, 2nd session, Senate document number 264.
We can see how serious this problem can get:  Poor magnesium levels in the body have been linked to heart disease, anxiety and panic attacks, PMS, asthma, bowel disease, diabetes, fatigue, nerve problems and migraines just to mention a few.Magnesium is only one example of many nutrients that we are struggling to meet our basic daily requirements for.  By eating nutrient leaching foods you will take your body further into nutrient debt, depriving your body of those all important life sustaining vitamins and minerals, the building blocks of your life.

The unhelpful foods that I listed, might not just be stripping you of valuable nutrients,  they might actually be toxic for you.  These types of foods carry poisons into your cells in the form of antibiotics, herbicides, fungicides, hormones, nitrates and other carcinogens.

Add to that the chemicals and dangerous metals that leach from the plastic and aluminium containers that many are served in and we can see how the body can become overwhelmed by the toxic cocktail that it is presented with on a daily basis.Even some elements that are crucial to your body, can become toxic if over consumed.  A good example of this is sodium which must be taken in a delicate balance with magnesium, calcium and potassium.  Over salted convenience foods and takeaways can tip this all important balance into a situation within the body, that over time can present a health crisis.

All of these food hazards place a dangerous burden on an overworked system, a system that is already crying out for help and showing signs and presenting symptoms of chronic disease.

Heated fats and oils can present a deadly hazard to your health.  Even oils on the supermarket shelves have probably been heat treated to give them a longer shelf life.  With this in mind also consider that cooked meats are also heated fats and oils and can offer a similar health concern.  Rather than nourish and sustain you these foods can damage cells and enzymes, leaving devastation and inflammation in their wake and a body that is in serious need of repair and restoration.

These types of foods can be hard for you to digest as they may not be recognised as food by your body.  The body can then struggle to process them,  challenging your liver; the organ that you rely on to breakdown and process your food and importantly help you to detoxify your blood.

When your liver struggles, so too can your all important lymphatic system which has a huge role to play in your immunity.  There is a back up of toxicity which sees your blood and lymph getting thicker and more congested, increasing your chances of pain, inflammation and infection.  The very symptoms presented by auto immune diseases.

So if you are struggling with an autoimmune or other chronic disease this is a non-negotiable, no brainer; DUMP THE JUNK.

Don’t feel that you have to get rid of everything immediately, take the time that you need to transition comfortably.  I am not making suggestions for what you can eat at this stage.  I only want to say increase your vegetables and fruit intake significantly if you know that these are areas that you fall short on.   Start to “crowd out” the undesirables.  Use some cooked and some raw.  Think vegetable soups, curries, smoothies, stews and stir fries.
Enjoy your fresh organic veggies!
Gemma x

Flax Seed Tea: the all important recipe for Hydration

LinseedsThe Autoimmune Disease Series

Recipe: Flax Seed Tea

Over the last few weeks I have been presenting a huge case for drinking plenty of water, especially if you have an autoimmune condition.  I have blogged about it and also uploaded my first video on it, for this Autoimmune series:  The five top reasons that you should be drinking more water if you suffer from an autoimmune disease.  So by now you should have got the message but also made a start on getting more of that life giving fluid into your body.

But what if your body just doesn’t absorb all that water?  What if instead it pours out of you like water from a hanging basket (when it doesn’t have enough water retaining gel in it)?

This gel can mean life or death to your plants through the summer and the Flax Seed Tea that I am about to show you,  can become your own water retaining gel.  The viscosity of this tea means that it will spend longer in your colon, giving it plenty more time to be absorbed along with all that gorgeous water in it.

Flax seeds are well known for their omega 3 fatty acid content (and if you don’t know much about that, sit tight because there will be plenty more about that over the upcoming weeks), but flax seeds drunk as a tea offer a huge benefit in the form of hydration.


“… if you are stressed your body can be like  a badly watered hanging basket. The water just goes straight through, hardly touching the sides! Linseed tea helps, because it is slightly gelatinous, this soothes and relaxes the colon, and allows it to absorb more water.”

I have posted a recipe before on making flax seed tea, but I believe that this one that Keith uses may allow the seeds to hold onto more of its therapeutic nutrients.

Flax seed tea recipe

Flaxseed tea saucepan

  1. Put 1 teaspoon of flax seed into a saucepan.
  2. Add 1 litre of fresh, filtered water
  3. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 20 minutes.
  4. You can then sieve off the seeds if you wish (I keep mine in)
  5. Use this “gel” to make further cups of tea for the day by adding hot water to warm it again.  (Use about 1/4 – 1/3 cup flax seed tea and top up with hot water)

Hydration is the biggest benefit of flax seed tea that I am bringing to you today.  However regular drinking of flax seed tea offers many more therapeutic effects.  The mucilage in flax seed tea helps to:

  1. Soothe a sore throat and heartburn,
  2. Relax irritated lungs
  3. Sweep the colon and calm inflammation within it.  (Don’t take if suffering from a bowel obstruction)
  4. Reduce gas, bloating and abdominal cramps
  5. Relieve constipation

wonderwoman tea

Drink 1-2 cups of this flax seed tea per day in addition to 1-2 litres of water, to get your body water tight.

Wishing you all a very happy Easter

Gemma x