Dr Michael Mosley, the well-known medical science presenter, journalist and author, appeared at the Online Global Stress & Wellbeing Summit hosted by the International Stress Management Association (ISMAUK) on Thursday 4th November. His talk, Eating Your Way to Better Health, focused on the roles food and diet play in our mental and physical health, with an emphasis on the impact of diet on our microbiome and therefore on sleep, anxiety and depression. Dr Mosely talked about his personal experience of reversing type 2 diabetes by changing what and when he eats, and also about research he has filmed, looking at the impact of a change in diet on depression and anxiety.

Noting the adverse effects Covid-19 has had on our mental health, Dr Mosely says, “During periods of high stress it’s more important than ever to be aware of the link between the mind and the body, because it has been shown that eating mindfully can help reduce stress. Research indicates that diet plays a key role in managing stress and improving sleep”. He will explain that the link lies in our gut – the healthier the gut, the more emotionally resilient we are. “Paying more attention to our diet and to eating gut-friendly foods will help us create a positive cycle of eating better, sleeping better, and managing stress”, he says, “and this also helps our bodies to fight infection”.

Dr Mosely recommends low-carbohydrate, high-fibre diets such as the Mediterranean diet, which will boost our microbiome and help reduce gut inflammation. Other foods we should consider are fibre-rich vegetables such as leeks, onions and garlic, which act as “fertilisers” for our good bacteria, encouraging them to multiply, which is good for the brain and helps to keep anxiety levels at bay. We should also cut down on processed and sugary foods, as they destroy healthy bacteria in our digestive system. He comments, “If you treat your microbiome with care and feed it well, it will look after you”.

Over 50 world-class speakers at ISMAUK’s Stress and Wellbeing Summit will have more to say on mental health, stress and wellbeing, including Professor Sir Cary Cooper CBE on Enhancing Mental Wellbeing, as well as keynotes, expert sessions and live discussions. Amongst them are Tiffany Kelly, Chief Executive Officer at Phoenix Rising Global, on how stress and fear can affect your physical and mental being and how you can become empowered to change; a live panel featuring Dame Jane Roberts, Geoff McDonald, Keith Weed CBE and Kate Ashbrook, discussing the health benefits of spending time outdoors and getting physical exercise to improve mood and reduce anxiety levels; and Jan Summerfield, Staff Support & Counselling Service Manager for NHS Staff, North Staffordshire, on the development of a model that has enabled peers and managers in organisations to have wellbeing conversations.

Carole Spiers, Chair of ISMAUK, says, “We are delighted to have Dr Michael Mosley as one of our eminent speakers at the Summit. At a time when the world is starting to recover from the Covid pandemic, we all need expert advice and guidance to help us improve our mental and physical health and reduce the incidence of stress and anxiety. At ISMAUK and through our branches internationally, we are working hard to raise awareness of the continuing stigma attached to mental health and stress issues and, as qualified stress practitioners, our members are in the field helping those who need it to get the appropriate treatment. Please join us at the Summit this week, which opens on International Stress Awareness Day itself”.