Having a good understanding of gut inflammation and how it can affect our mental and emotional condition is important in helping address and recover from lifestyle stress, depression, anxiety and dependency.


Gut health and nutrition affects overall health, including mental and emotional health, in significant ways. Anxiety, depression and stress are all affected by gut health which is why extensive testing we do at The Banyans of nutritional and underlying genetic causes are so important.

Professor Julio Licinio, from the Flinders University Mind and Brain Theme at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI), reports that “A growing pool of evidence is pointing to the balance of the gut microbiome having a strong bearing on the underlying pathophysiology of major depressive disorder”.

We also know that gut microbiota influences brain chemistry and behaviour and influences serotonin and dopamine production.


In fact, more than 90% of the body’s serotonin, which is a neuro-transmitter contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness, is found in the gut.


This is why the effectiveness of treatments and medication often depends on your own personal physiology and why it is so important to have individualised testing.  Methylation regulates the switching on and off of our genes which is why we can and do test for histamine levels and DNA related tests which affect the following biological processes:

  • Methylation
  • Inflammation
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Lipid/Cholesterol metabolism
  • Bone health
  • Insulin sensitivity
  • Food/Nutrient responses
  • Pyrrole Disease, also known as Pyroluria, also known as Kryptopyrrole

These are important as they are involved in, or related to, many of our important physical and gut health functions such as

  1. Detoxification
  2. Controlling inflammation
  3. Maintaining DNA
  4. Immune function
  5. Energy production
  6. Mood balancing

This is why analysing the nutritional status of all of our guests is an important part of our treatment process at The Banyans. Your individual profile informs your health treatments and helps our expert team design solutions for you.


What Is Nutrition?

“Nutrition is the provision of chemical substrates and co factors that facilitate the growth and maintenance of a living organism in health according to its genome.”

The nutritionist’s role in treating mental well being and substance abuse is an important but often lacking part of a person’s long-term recovery process. Good nutrition therapy involves more than “just a meal plan”.


Nutrition therapy involves thorough nutritional status assessment with consideration for the person’s health and lifestyle history, and a personalised care plan that carefully considers their nutritional needs.


This is considered in the context of their lives, and the best way to correct deficiencies and meet nutritional needs in ways that increase chances of adherence and success.

Nutrition therapy for substance abuse is complex, as the nutritional risks vary depending on the substance of choice. Negative conditions for successful treatment are common, including poor support, co-occurring mental health disorders, and other lifestyle and socio-economic factors.

Addiction is a chronic brain disease from which people can and do recover. Predisposing factors for an addiction include psychological vulnerability, biochemical abnormalities, genetics, and environmental conditioning. Social isolation, depression, and anxiety are common among substance abusers, and drugs and/or alcohol often are used to relieve these negative feelings because they increase dopamine activity, which boosts mood.


The Role Of Nutrition

Proper nutrition and hydration are key to the substance abuse healing process because they help restore physical and mental health and improve the chance of recovery. Macro- and micronutrient deficiencies can lead to symptoms of depression, anxiety, and low energy, all of which can lead someone to start using drugs or alcohol or trigger a relapse.

Furthermore, substance abuse generally leads to a lack of proper nutrition, either as a result of not eating enough throughout the day or eating foods that are low in necessary nutrients. Certain substances, such as stimulants, may suppress appetite and disrupt metabolic and neuroendocrine regulation, leading to improper calorie consumption and impaired nutrient processing. Other substances may lead to an increase in appetite, causing weight gain, despite malnutrition risk.


For those who are battling substance abuse, nutrition plays the same key role in maintaining recovery while also improving the resulting health conditions and deficiencies.


Individualized nutrition counseling and comprehensive nutrition education programs provided to the substance abuse population have been found to significantly improve three-month sobriety success rates. Just as those with diabetes or heart disease receive nutrition education to manage their diseases, those dealing with substance abuse should have nutrition education that addresses their specific risk factors and increases their chances of recovery.

Nutrition therapy (NT) and nutrition education should target the following goals:

  • heal and nourish the body damaged by alcohol or substance abuse;
  • stabilize mood and reduce stress;
  • reduce cravings for drugs and alcohol;
  • address medical conditions that are co-occurring or have resulted from substance abuse; and
  • encourage self-care and a healthful lifestyle.


Why Your Wellness Plan Includes Tests

Personalised testing is imperative for gaining detailed insights into your gut health and nutritional profile. Many imbalances are subclinical and have no direct symptomatic feedback. Excesses and deficiencies often can have similar symptoms. Guess work could exacerbate an imbalance so we help to organise tests to minimise taking chances and take a more accurate approach to your health management.


These tests allow for tailored nutrition, diet advice and supplementation protocols rather than a “best guess” approach or assuming a “one size fits all” model.


What tests are conducted: Tests will be a combination of blood, urine, saliva and stool samples. Tests will be conducted in the first week of your residential stay.  We organise your appointments and transport you to collection centres as needed, with a streamlined approach to minimise travel as far as possible. Some of the more advanced tests are processed at international labs so results will be received between 3 days to 2 to 4 weeks depending on the test. Our nutritionist sits with you and shows you what your nutritional profile reveals, explaining what you need to know.


[1]Emerson M, Dubois C, Hatcher A, et al. Psychiatric nutrition therapy: are source guide for dietetics professionals practicing in behavioral health care. Dietetics in Developmental and Psychiatric Disorders Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association.http://www3.nd.edu/~jkaiser/PsychPapers/Psychiatric Nutrition Therapy 08.31.06.pdf. 2006.

[1]Grant LP, Haughton B, Sachan DS. Nutrition education is positively associated with substance abuse.

[1]Salz, A. Substance Abuse and Nutrition. Today’s Dietitian. Vol 16 No.12 P44. Retrieved from todaysdietitian.com