Your Mood Swings Start in Your Gut

olliss-375373-unsplash copy.jpg

This headliner might sound polarizing to those of you that are stuck in the “old” conventional ways of looking at mental health. We’re taught that our mental health problems are due to a neurotransmitter imbalance that starts in our brain and that there is only one solution to that – medication. That the fate of our mental health lays in the hands of the gene’s passed down to us from our parents. What if I were to tell you that the explanation as to why you’re feeling this way is literally right underneath your nose, and that there is a predictable, more impactful way to determine a long-term solution to mental well-being?

New research reveals that your gut communicates to your brain on a regular basis. With an unhealthy gut, this emotional guidance system is TURNED OFF. Our first line of defense against the outside world is under attack, and because of that toxins are getting in instead of the vital nutrients that our brains need, and these toxins are causing inflammation both in our body as well as our brain. This leads to many symptoms, mood swings, brain fog, and lack of focus being some big ones. The good news is, there’s a better way out of this nightmare.

The 6-step framework that I’ve worked with to help not only myself, but countless others recover their mental health starts with addressing gut health. Within this first step there are a variety of topics addressed, but what I wanted to focus on here is the effects that food intolerances and inflammatory substances have on the health of your gut and subsequently the health of your mind.

The cause of your mood swings is an unhealthy gut, but the solution to your mood swings is also through your gut.

Food intolerances, with gluten and casein from dairy being two of the most common culprits, can wreak havoc on the intestinal lining that protects certain molecules from getting into your blood steam. To simplify the picture for you, once your intestinal lining becomes compromised, toxic particles (such as the gluten or casein), can reach your brain and manifest as symptoms of psychosis, schizophrenia, mood swings, or autism. It can take the body up to 4 days to react to molecules from food, so it can be challenging for one to discover really what food it is that is triggering the symptoms.

There is a plethora of food intolerance tests out there that promise to solve the world’s problems by telling people what foods they shouldn’t eat, however they are not entirely accurate all the time and often may generate false negatives or positives to certain foods. An additional downside, is they can get expensive. This is why I recommend elimination/re-challenge diets. This, to me, is the gold standard of understanding what foods someone might be reacting to, triggering chronic intestinal inflammation that leads to chronic neuroinflammation.

So, how do you do an elimination/re-challenge diet? There are tons of them discussed online. The method I prefer is to remove all processed foods (this means all canned foods, pastas, packaged foods), gluten, corn, dairy, eggs, whey, soy, peanuts, and vegetable oils. This means, you’ll be eating a very “whole foods” based diet, plentiful in grass fed meats, vegetables, and fruits. If you know you have a nightshade issue, you may want to avoid that category of vegetables as well – but that is a topic for a whole separate conversation. Avoid these foods for 30 days. And then one by one, every 4 days, you’ll want to reintroduce those foods back and be very conscious of how they make you feel. Keep a food diary throughout the process, and dedicate this month to being very mindful of how your body (and mind) are feeling each step of the way. After 30 days, it should be crystal clear what foods you’re reacting to if you give yourself the time to experience the effects of adding each one back into your diet.

This process usually is more effective and understandable with the help of a trained clinician, so if you feel that you aren’t really able to figure it out on your own, it would be wise to get the support and guidance of someone with experience in repairing digestive health.



Fish Oil for Mental Health: Is a Deficiency Causing my Symptoms?

Screen Shot 2019-04-01 at 12.06.34 PM copy.jpg

Omega-3 fats consist of two important fatty acid’s that have widespread health implications, eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanenoic acid (DHA). Both are essential to brain function, with DHA comprising a staggering 60% of brain tissue. Without enough of these fats in your diet your brain cannot function properly, and unfortunately the standard American diet is very depleted in these fats. Specific to the brain, omega-3 fats build cell membranes, they reduce inflammation linked to just about all brain disorders, they stimulate new cell growth and communication in the brain, and they play a role in balancing your blood sugar which has implications for anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s, and others (Lands, 2012). Healthy cell membranes in the brain means more efficient communication between neurons, which means better brain function and a happier more stable mood (Haag, 2003).

Omega-3 (DHA & EPA) fats are obtained in the diet predominantly from wild caught fish and game, seaweed, algae, or pastured eggs. Certain nuts and seeds such as walnuts or flax seed contain a third form of omega-3 fatty acid called ALA, however this fat needs to be converted into DHA and EPA in the body in order to be utilized effectively by the brain. It is estimated that the body is only capable of converting roughly 10% of ALA into DHA or EPA, making ALA rich foods a poor source of usable omega-3s.

In today’s society, refined omega-6 fatty acids are the more common form of fat intake. Most of these omega-6’s are inflammatory oils such as soy, safflower, or corn oils driving up the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 intake. The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 intake should be anywhere in the 1:1 to 4:1 range according to research, but unfortunately our society’s average is currently sitting at between 10:1 and 20:1 due to the common use of inflammatory oils in processed/fast foods (Simopoulos, 2008).

While both DHA and EPA play a role in health, it is becoming more evident that EPA plays more of a role in decreasing systemic inflammation, while DHA plays more of a role in maintaining brain health. If you’re looking for a Fish Oil supplement to support the general health of your brain, mood disorders, memory deficits, or ADHD, I recommend a supplement with a higher concentration of DHA to EPA. Dosages are very dependent on each person’s current intake of omega-3s as well as their state of health. Due to the blood thinning effects of fish oil, those currently on blood thinners for health reasons should consult a doctor or practitioner before supplementing. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recommends a healthy dietary intake of 3,500mg of omega-3s daily for a 2000 calorie diet (Hibbeln, Nieminen, Blasbalg, Riggs, & Lands, 2006). If you’re looking for a good product recommendation, reach out to us! Additionally, we have a link in our resources section for 10% off of our dispensary which offers top shelf professional grade fish oil supplements.

While supplementation is beneficial for those that struggle to get enough fish in their diet, my go to solution is to incorporate food forms of omega-3s. Canned, wild caught sustainable sardines are a convenient and easy way to get enough of these important fats into your diet. Simply pop open a can and dice them up into a salad, they taste line tuna! Don’t be scared! Usually, the bigger the fish, the more heavy metals such as mercury they might contain, making sardines a great option.

If you’re unsure of what your current fatty acid intake levels are, visit and enter your dietary intake. This will calculate the omega-3 levels in your body. Additionally, there are functional lab tests we can order to analyze your body’s fatty acid levels.

Symptoms of an essential fatty acid deficiency include:

·       Dry, itchy, flaky skin

·       Hair dandruff

·       Brittle or cracking nails

·       Achy or stiff joints

·       Constipation or slimy/greasy stools

·       PMS

·       High LDL/Low HDL/High Triglycerides

·       Depression/ADHD/Anxiety



Haag, M. (2003). Essential fatty acids and the brain. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Revue Canadienne De Psychiatrie, 48(3), 195–203.

Hibbeln, J. R., Nieminen, L. R. G., Blasbalg, T. L., Riggs, J. A., & Lands, W. E. M. (2006). Healthy intakes of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids: estimations considering worldwide diversity. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 83(6 Suppl), 1483S-1493S.

Lands, B. (2012). Consequences of Essential Fatty Acids. Nutrients, 4(9), 1338–1357.

Simopoulos, A. P. (2008). The importance of the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio in cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. Experimental Biology and Medicine (Maywood, N.J.), 233(6), 674–688.


Ten Best Foods for Mental Health and How to Prep them in Ten Minutes!


When it comes to rebalancing brain chemistry and supporting mental health through foods and herbs - there is no single right way to do it. As I’ve stated a million times over, everyone’s physiology is different and will come into play to a certain extent. With that said, I’ve selected ten of my go to foods for supporting mental health that everyone could benefit from incorporating into their diet on a daily basis. I’ll discuss why these ten foods are so nourishing for your brain, as well as how you can incorporate them into a quick ten minute meal. Let’s dive in!

1). Wild Caught Salmon AND/OR Wild Sardines

These fish are ridiculously rich in omega-3s to help lower inflammation, support cellular communication pathways by supporting the health of cell walls (huge implications for neurotransmitter communication pathways), and improve digestion. Wild caught is ideal as it is much more sustainable, the fish are lower in toxins, and their omega-3 content is much higher.

Easy Baked Salmon Recipe: Set the oven to 375. Place a 4oz cut of wild caught salmon in a baking dish and drizzle ghee or olive oil over top of the salmon. Squeeze a half a lemon over the top, sprinkle some salt & pepper, and then add a few thin slices of lemon on top. Dice up some fresh or dried rosemary and sprinkle some over the top. Bake for 15 minutes. For extra points, add a little minced garlic!

Wild Sardines are great diced up in a chopped salad!

2). Organic Pastured/Grass-Fed Bison, Beef, Lamb, Or Chicken

These meats are rich in B vitamins and the specific amino acids (I.e. Tryptophan) that support your brain’s synthesis of neurotransmitters. Animal protein is the richest source of bio-available tryptophan and B vitamins. But not all animal protein is created equal. Opt for pastured, humanely raised, organic, and local if possible.

Lamb burger:

  • 1 pound ground lamb (or substitute with beef)

  • 1⁄2 cup finely diced onion

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix the lamb, onion, parsley, mint, salt, pepper, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, and cayenne in a bowl and mix (kneading with your hands is a good idea) to make sure that the mixture is well blended.

  • Cover and refrigerate if possible for up to one hour.

  • Meanwhile, make the taratour sauce: Whisk the tahini, water, garlic, lemon, and salt until smooth. Stir in the chives. Add more water if necessary, one tablespoon at a time, to thin the sauce to a desired consistency.

  • To cook the burgers, preheat a grill, a grill pan, or a cast iron skillet on medium high heat. Form the meat into 4 burgers

  • Cook for 3 to 5 minutes per side, until cooked through. Serve hot, with tahini taratour sauce drizzled on top.

3). Raw Egg Yolks

Raw egg yolks are rich sources of protein and choline to support brain and memory function. They support high performance activity and are most bioavailable when eaten raw. Incorporate them into smoothies, or whip up a couple eggs sunnyside up in the morning over a veggie hash. Try our Brain Booster Smoothie recipe in our resources section!

4). Olive Oil, Ghee, Coconut Oil/MCT Oil

These oils are GREAT sources of fat to support the brain. Considering that the brain is predominately made of fat, it makes sense that healthy fats are going to be very beneficial for ensuring the health of our brain cells. These fats are packed with antioxidants, antimicrobial properties, and butyric acid which is a source of energy for brain cells.

For those of you not familiar with ghee, ghee is clarified butter - meaning the milk solids, casein, lactose, and moisture have been removed and what is remaining is the beneficial fats and nutrients. Contrary to popular belief, ghee actually reduces the risk of heart disease. The saturated fats protect nerve and brain cells and can heal and maintain healthy digestion, which goes hand in hand with brain function. Packed with vitamins E, A, K and essential fatty acids, ghee should be a go to oil for supporting the brain.

Coconut oil and it’s derivative MCT Oil (medium chain triglycerides) are packed with antimicrobial properties that support a balanced microbiome and support the brain with a very rapid source of long lasting fuel. Both are also anti-inflammatory and great for brain injuries.

You can put a tablespoon of coconut oil/MCT Oil and ghee into a morning smoothie, olive oil used generously over a salad, or use all three for cooking! Either way, get em in daily! Fat is your friend!

5). Fermented Foods

This includes sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, miso, etc. Fermented foods support a healthy microbiome (the city of bacteria living in our guts). They enhance the level of healthy bacteria thus improving intestinal health, and they promote an abundance of relaxing neurotransmitters in the brain (GABA). 1 TBSP of kimchi or sauerkraut goes great over a salad. You can enjoy the Cherry recipe under #10 with yogurt as well for some evening probiotics!

Coconut Miso Soup (Adapted from Meghan Telpner)


  • 6 cups water

  • ¼ cup fresh ginger, cut into match stick slices

  • 4 carrots, sliced

  • ½ red onion, chopped

  • ½ cup broccoli, chopped into florets (use stems too)

  • ½ cup red cabbage, shredded

  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

  • ¼ cup tamari

  • 1 cup organic coconut milk

  • 2 sheets of nori, cut into thin strips about 2 inches long

  • ¼ cup dried or ½ cup fresh shiitake mushrooms

  • ⅓ cup miso paste (Make sure its fermented! A natural food store or Whole Foods should have it)


  1. Place water, ginger, carrots, onion, broccoli and cabbage into pot, bring to a boil and let simmer for 5-10 minutes, until carrots are fork tender.

  2. Remove from heat and add lemon juice, tamari and coconut milk.

  3. Scoop out 1 cup of the broth and whisk with miso until miso paste has dissolved. Pour back into pot.

  4. Keep warm on low heat, but do not allow to boil.

  5. Serve garnished with nori and mushrooms!

6). Wild Frozen Blueberries

Rich in phytonutrients that protect our cells from damage, wild blueberries are a go to for lowering brain inflammation from sports injuries or other brain traumas. 1/2 cup of wild frozen blueberries goes great in our Brain Booster smoothie recipe under our resources page!

7). Pinto Beans

These are a great vegetarian source of protein as well as B vitamins to support a healthy mood. B Vitamins are essential in the creation of neurotransmitters in the brain. A deficiency of B Vitamins can manifest as mental health symptoms.

Pinto Bean Burrito Bowl Recipe

Burrito Bowl

  • 1/2-1 Cup Canned Organic BPA Free Pinto Beans

  • Shredded Kale

  • Shredded red cabbage

  • Diced Carrots

  • Chopped, cooked chicken (omit if vegetarian)

  • Halved grape tomatoes

  • Crumbled cheese such as goat, feta

  • Chopped green onions

  • 1 TBSP Sauerkraut or Kimchi


  • Half of an avocado

  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 1 green onion, chopped

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • A few squeezes of lime juice

  • hot sauce, to taste

8). Oats

A great food for reducing anxiety, oats are very relaxing when eaten in the evening.

Depends on the type of oats you are using here, I recommend either steel cut or certified gluten free quick cooking oats. Follow instructions on packaging for cooking the oats. You can add some almond milk or whole fat milk over top, or yogurt, and add some berries, walnuts, hemp/flax/chia seeds.

Try this oatmeal recipe:

  • 1/2 cup cooked oats (unsweetened)

  • 1 TBSP hemp seeds

  • 1 TSP Chia seeds

  • 1 TSP ground flax

  • Handful walnuts or sprouted pumpkin seeds

  • Blueberries/raspberries/bananas

  • If you have a sweet tooth, try adding a tiny bit of wild honey or maple syrup

9). Matcha

A wonderful natural source of L-Theanine and antioxidants, that support a relaxed mood as well as cellular health.

Matcha Smoothie:

  • 1/2 cup almond milk or for bonus points pastured kefir, or coconut kefir
    1/4 cup wild frozen blueberries
    1 tsp matcha green tea powder
    3 drops stevia liquid or 1 tsp raw honey
    1 TBSP MCT oil

10). Tart Cherries

These little beauties are a natural source of melatonin to support a good night sleep. Best if eaten in the evening.

Cherry Dessert!


BONUS: Walnuts!

There’s a reason why walnuts look like a small brain. They have the highest content of omega-3 fatty acids of all the nuts that can support improved neurotransmitter communication pathways. After all, your brain is mostly made of fats, with DHA from omega-3s being one of the most vital. So get some healthy ones in! Throw them on oatmeal, eat them raw, mix them into granola.


Abascal, K., & Yarnell, E. (2004). Nervine Herbs for Treating Anxiety. Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 10(6), 309–315.

Aslam, H., Green, J., Jacka, F. N., Collier, F., Berk, M., Pasco, J., & Dawson, S. L. (2018). Fermented foods, the gut and mental health: a mechanistic overview with implications for depression and anxiety. Nutritional Neuroscience, 1–13.

Bjelland, I., Tell, G. S., Vollset, S. E., Konstantinova, S., & Ueland, P. M. (2009). Choline in anxiety and depression: the Hordaland Health Study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 90(4), 1056–1060.

Dietz, C., Dekker, M., & Piqueras-Fiszman, B. (2017). An intervention study on the effect of matcha tea, in drink and snack bar formats, on mood and cognitive performance. Food Research International, 99, 72–83.

Gómez-Pinilla, F. (2008). Brain foods: the effects of nutrients on brain function. Nature Reviews. Neuroscience, 9(7), 568–578.

Howatson, G., Bell, P. G., Tallent, J., Middleton, B., McHugh, M. P., & Ellis, J. (2012). Effect of tart cherry juice (Prunus cerasus) on melatonin levels and enhanced sleep quality. European Journal of Nutrition, 51(8), 909–916.

Kennedy, D. O. (2016). B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy—A Review. Nutrients, 8(2).

Kiecolt-Glaser, J. K. (2010). Stress, Food, and Inflammation: Psychoneuroimmunology and Nutrition at the Cutting Edge. Psychosomatic Medicine, 72(4), 365–369.

Poulose, S. M., Miller, M. G., & Shukitt-Hale, B. (2014). Role of Walnuts in Maintaining Brain Health with Age. The Journal of Nutrition, 144(4), 561S-566S.

Slemmer, J. E., Shacka, J. J., Sweeney, M. I., & Weber, J. T. (2008). Antioxidants and Free Radical Scavengers for the Treatment Of Stroke, Traumatic Brain Injury and Aging [Text].