NUTRITION AND WELLNESS
We take a holistic, systemic approach to healing the mind, body & spirit.
At Untethered Therapy, we recognize the interconnection between our physical, mental and spiritual health. For example, “Trust your gut”, “gut wrenching”, “butterflies in my stomach”, I had“a gut feeling” highlighting the interplay between our gut, intuition, mood, and health. When we are sick, or disconnected from our bodies, we can miss out on this essential feedback for overall well being. In order for our mental health to be at its peak, it is essential that we pay attention to our entire system. The Brain-gut axis is a network of neurons that is used to send and receive information between the brain and gut. The efficiency of this system can be highly impacted by the gut’s microbiome as well as other physiological conditions. All of these findings and more have earned your gut microbiome the nickname – the second brain. When you are eating the right nutrients for your microbiome, the health benefits are passed on to your brain. Mental health depends on a healthy brain.
In order to consider how all of these systems work together, we created a Wellness Pyramid to conceptualize the optimal balance in order to support ideal Mental, Physical, and Spiritual wholeness.
Connection is the foundation for all healing principles. The domain of connection can be broken into two parts: connection to self and others. Connection to self helps us access greater insight, peace, emotional harmony, and centeredness. This can be achieved through spiritual, meditative, and mindfulness practices. Connection to others is a separate, but equally essential part to overall wellbeing. We are wired to connect! This has never been more apparent, until we experienced the increased depression, anxiety, and mental distress as a result of the forced isolation due to the Pandemic. This has helped us gain an increased respect for the importance of having healthy connections and relationships in our lives as a foundation for a healthy lifestyle.
Physical health is the second foundation principle of wellness. Likewise it is broken into two essential categories, movement and restoration. Through movement, we become more aware and connected to our body. As we engage in movement, our mind becomes stimulated and releases neurochemicals such as endorphins (the body’s natural pain fighting chemicals) that help us feel stronger, brighter and full of hope. The second, and equally important category is restoration. It is often a much overlooked, yet essential component to healthy living. Sleep is the state in which our central nervous system rejuvenates and may be one of the most important factors for optimal brain function and mental health. Consequently, sleep disturbance has been linked to mental disorders, and poorer cognitive, emotional and relational functioning. (1,2) Therefore, optimal physical health is a balance between healthy activity and rest and rejuvenation.
The remaining levels of the Wellness Pyramid revolve around nutrition and diet. By utilizing these principles, we will develop a habit of eating a nutrient-rich diet, supporting overall wellness. As we strengthen connection to self and others, get active as well as make time for rest, and practice healthy eating habits, the cravings for unhealthy and even addictive substances such as sugar, intoxicants, and stimulants become less powerful and easier to overcome.
The nutritional component of the wellness pyramid is based on generally healthy food guidelines. However, it is simply suggestive. Individual biochemistry, food sensitivities, health conditions and preferences should be taken into consideration, and adjusted accordingly as you reference the pyramid above. Food, and mood can be highly intertwined..
Gut Health/Mental Health Connection
The nutritional suggestions in the Wellness Pyramid above are intended to promote a healthy gut biome as a foundation for ideal mental and physical health. Did you know that 90% of your Serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for contentment, is made by your gut microbiome? A change in the balance of your gut microbes has been shown to significantly affect your mood, pain tolerance, cognitive performance, behavior and mental health. (3,4,5,6) When the gut ecosystem is out of balance it can cause brain fog, depression, and even dementia.
If you are struggling with challenging food sensitivities, cravings or a problematic relationship to food, we are here to help. Our coaches will help you explore how food, environment and hormones can affect us on a biological level and could contribute to mood disorders. If you would like individualized support to improve your health and well-being, or would like to learn more about the food, mental health connection, please check out our talented nutrition coaches and their individual and group offerings to help you achieve your overall wellness goals.
Nutrition and Wellness Coaching Opportunities
Contact Amy Lassen at: Amy.Lassen@untetheredtherapy.org for current offerings.
- Diet, Sleep, and Mental Health: Insights from the UK Biobank Study
- Sleep and mental disorders: A meta-analysis of polysomnographic research
- The impact of microbiota on brain and behavior: mechanisms & therapeutic potential
- Gut Microbiota and Brain Function: An Evolving Field in Neuroscience
- The microbiome revolution
- Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function