Mental Health – Ally Houston’s Story

by Ally Houston

I had been unwell from childhood in various ways. My Mum used to say we had a season ticket to the children’s hospital in Glasgow. Besides autoimmune and weight issues, I struggled with mental health issues too. Depression, anxiety, and an inability to concentrate led me to despair.

In 2015 I was studying for a PhD in gravitational wave physics, but my problems were preventing me from working. I was lucky that my supervisor Prof. Ken Strain had healed his CFS/ME by changing what he ate, and he pointed me in the right direction to research. I dived into the literature, and came up with the answer. I changed to eating a paleo low carb diet in 2016, and by 2017, I’d decided to leave my PhD to combine the science I’d learned with my pre-university background in fine food, to start Paleo Canteen.

Why can changing your diet help so much with mood? There are multiple plausible reasons, including the microbiome, ketones fuelling the brain optimally, and the psychological boost of having confidence in your psyche once more.

What’s clear is that there is a deep association between sugar, refined flour, and vegetable oil, and poor mental health,), and plenty of work ongoing around why?

Multiple other mental illnesses are associated with food, not least schizophrenia and gluten. The most compelling evidence comes from the combination of stories like mine, individuals who are telling their stories about feeling better mentally, and randomised trials showing how diet can vastly improve mental health, and is not merely an association.

There are brilliant resources around this, particularly from Dr. Emily Deans and Dr. Georgia Ede.

I still have bad days sometimes, when I’m stressed out or something goes wrong, but my life has been forever changed for the better.

I hope my story can serve as hope to some who might otherwise despair like I did. I’ll continue to eat paleo low carb, and to do everything I can to empower people to eat their way into better mental health.

Ally’s own website can be visited here.