Lockdowns are psychologically destructive. While detailed statistics of the biological impact of COVID-19 are broadcast every day through the mainstream media, the psychological impact of the months of ‘house-arrest’ most of us have been forced to endure, is more of a dark horse, and is certainly being underreported. Many of us are under tremendous stress as we contemplate uncertain futures, a runaway virus, the loss of liberty, and destroyed businesses and jobs. The naïve justify the enormous fallout of the lockdown measures by taking that stance that life is more important than money, and therefore protecting lives should take absolute precedence over protecting the economy. But we must not forget that our whole medical care system is rooted in the economy, and that a fall in economic output as well as a reallocation of finite resources to the COVID-19 pandemic causes a vast and underreported increase in mortality in other areas, as well as in psychiatric morbidity.
For example, the Lancet back in August published an article on the impact of the reallocation of medical resources to the pandemic, concluding that there will be a substantial increase in breast, colorectal, lung and oesophageal cancers going forward (these are only the types of cancer that they examined, and so there is likely to be similar significant increases in other types too). The numbers are shocking when we actually consider how many actual COVID-19 deaths are being theoretically saved in the process. Add to that the increased number of cardiovascular deaths as a result of a lack of exercise and an increase in stress eating, as well as escalating suicide rates, and we start to see the urgent need for a proper cost-benefit analysis for how we can intelligently minimise the total impact of this pandemic on society. [1.] [2.]
Many of us are now pinning our hopes on the new vaccines that have been rushed through; vaccines that are being portrayed as the only hope by the media and our governments. But once more, a proper cost-benefit analysis is missing (primarily due to a lack of data), so that the choice whether to take it or not is based more on marketing and trust in experts than on actual science. In the meantime, however, we must not forget that there are always more options, and many of those options are in proven areas of natural health. Over the past couple of weeks, we have looked at the importance of immunity and at ways to strengthen it using supplements such as Biobran and Vitamin D3. So this week we thought we would look at some of the nutrients that can help us naturally elevate psychological mood, which in turn reduces the chronic stress most of us will have during these challenging times.
Following are our top seven nutrients for boosting mood and reducing the damaging effects of chronic psychological stress:
Antioxidants are vital for neutralising the ravages of stress, including oxidative stress in our brains. Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables tend to be the foods with the highest antioxidant content. If you want extra help, AlphaGuard Plus is a superlative antioxidant complex for the price. We also have Pro-Knox which brings extra protection from free-radical attack.
- Microbiome Enhancers
You have probably heard about the importance of the friendly bacteria in your stomach, but now research is showing how important microbiome health is to brain function and psychology. If your little critters are sparse or unhealthy, you are more likely to feel low and anxious. Eating a healthy diet that includes fermented foods is ideal. In addition, taking a probiotic supplement called Micromax, which contains an ecological network of synergistic organisms, is able to bring happiness and balance to our little friends. It is made in a pristine environment in the Alps and is manufactured according to the principles of biodynamics, ensuring the organisms in Micromax are maximally vital, pure and effective.
B Vitamins are essential for allowing us to cope with stress. They are vital for normal nervous system functioning and for basic cell metabolism. And they are also involved with balancing out neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine in the brain. They have also been shown to improve mood. You can find B vitamins in leafy green vegetables, beans and yeast flakes (as well as seafood (especially Salmon), liver and other organ meats if you eat meat). The other very effective way of ensuring optimal amounts of B Vitamins is to take PRL Max B, a fermented and pre-methylated form of liquid Vitamin B that is more bioavailable than other more conventional forms of Vitamin B. This is one of the best nutritive protections against stress.
Magnesium is a cofactor in over 300 enzyme groups and is vital for extracting energy from our food as well as for the synthesis of proteins from amino acids. In addition, magnesium is vital for the release and uptake of serotonin in the brain, giving it the nomenclature “the happy mineral”. Magnesium is naturally found in the highest quantities in spinach, pumpkin seeds, lima beans, brown rice and almonds (and fish such as tuna ). However, it is often best to supplement this mineral with a high quality, highly bioavailable and digestible form such as the magnesium lactate found in PRL Premier Magnesium.
- Complex Carbohydrates
When we are stressed, we automatically reach for “comfort food” — invariably sugary foods. However, these come at a price to the body as they can elevate stress hormones and cause longer-term health issues. However, if we can chose complex carbohydrates that release their sugar slowly — such as oatmeal, wholegrain bread (gluten free if we need it to be) and wholegrain rice — then we will get the “happy factor” without the downside. The trick is not to overdue it though, as too much carbohydrate will end up lowing our energy and making exercise even less likely.
Zinc is the most prevalent trace mineral in our cells and is central to optimum immune system functioning, reducing inflammation and for increasing fertility. This vital mineral is also very important for the health of our brain and nervous system; when zinc gets low, our psychological outlook drops too. Zinc can be found in beans, seeds and nuts (and especially in shellfish like oysters). You can also use highly bioavailable ionic liquid zinc supplements such as our PRL Liquid Zinc Assay, which contains pure zinc sulfate heptahydrate in purified water.
- Omega 3 (vegan)
Apart from being vital for many functions in the body, including heart health, reducing general inflammation in the body, and optimal brain development, Omega 3 fatty acids are also believed to optimize brain function, especially for those with mood disorders. It is also thought to be helpful for some with depression and anxiety. Food sources include flax seeds and for those who eat fish, seafood such as mackerel, salmon, cod liver oil, herring and oysters. If you are not regularly taking in this nutrient, supplementation is important. The usual source of Omega 3 for those needing to supplement is fish oil, though there is now a cleaner source from algae. PRL DHA is a premium quality DHA supplement used by practitioners for elevating Omega 3 levels. It supplies long-chain Omega 3 fatty acids which are essential for the nervous system.
Nutritive approaches aside, exercise is also a fantastic way for generating feelings of wellbeing and helping us to rise out of low psychological moods.
Overall, given the right nutrients and regular exercise (simple walks are sufficient), we can protect ourselves from the stresses of ‘house-arrest’ and find the mental and emotional clarity to carry on with our lives as functionally as possible.