When I was a new lawyer (the beginning of my journey to the world of wellness) I had wonderful mentors. One in particular advised me that a call in the middle of the night from a client wanting to change their Will should elicit the question, “when was your last bowel movement.” I thought it was silly until I learned that constipation can lead to irrational behavior and even to emotional dis-ease (hyphen designed to make a point.) But it goes deeper than that … There is a connection between what we eat and how we feel? Research has shown the impact of diet kids’ behavior and ability to learn, on dementia, even on criminal behavior – It’s a hot topic these days. After all, what we do and don’t eat does affect more than your waistline. It affects how we feel, think, act and react?
What do we know?
- There are receptors in the brain that are linked to obesity and mental impairments.
- The brain is damaged by free radicals just like any other organ in the body; it is susceptible to oxidative stress.
- What we eat impacts brain synapses.
- Digestive issues affect the whole body, including the brain.
- Deficiencies in certain nutrients can lead to depression and cognitive issues.
What can we do?
- Medical intervention is often necessary, but not for everyone – not for most of us and certainly not before determining other options like diet and exercise.
- Speaking of exercise, a great way to burn off some calories, get some cardio and start the health snowball rolling in the right direction, is to open the fridge and the cupboards and take out processed junk and everything that has a shelf life longer than your life expectancy! Bag it and take it out to the trash.
There is a Gut-Brain connection and when the gut isn’t working properly, we have real problems. I used to think that digestive issues were all about bloating, bowel function, heartburn, that kind of stuff. I found out that symptoms of a “bad stomach” go way past burping, pooping and passing gas. Aches and pains, dizziness, brain fog, poor memory, fatigue, headaches, even hair loss, can result from a bad gut. A malfunctioning digestive system means a poorly functioning brain.
We have all heard stories about people going from one doctor to another complaining about symptoms of dis-ease and the docs chalk it all up to some emotional issue and prescribe a drug.
That would be enough to make anyone depressed! Antidepressants are only going to mask some of the symptoms while the problem just continues to get worse.
As with most things in life, there is a solution. What do we need?
- Omega-3 fatty acids.
- Folic Acid.
- B Vitamins.
- Minerals like Magnesium, Zinc and Selenium.
- Vitamin C – yes, Vitamin C is not only to ward off colds.
- And don’t forget chocolate – it has special mood elevating properties so I thought I would throw that in here.
And guess why?
- Folate especially when eaten along with B vitamins, prevents cognitive impairment and has even been shown to help antidepressants work better.
- Omega-3s have been shown to improve learning, memory and to help fight against mood disorders.
- Vitamin C and minerals help improve mood and relieve depression.
- Foods high in antioxidants like blueberries reduced oxidative stress by devouring free radicals – what we eat goes in and eats the stuff that is bad for us! The body is amazing!
So now what? Natural antidepressants are plentiful, so here are some good foods
- Seeds, nuts, beans, avocados wheat germ, molasses and olive oil for Omeg-3 (especially uridine) and selenium.
- Brown rice, peppers, broccoli supply B vitamins and magnesium.
- Dark leafy greens, beets, squash contain the folic acid we need.
- Citrus fruits will give you more folic acid and in addition, you get that vitamin C needed for the healthy brain.
The bottom line is that we control what we eat. We can choose to load up on our greens or not! Yes, there are people born with good genes, but most of us are not or at least can’t be certain. I am not gambling on this one!
So let’s all pull ourselves up by our guts and say “no” to the junk food jungle and the quick fixes offered by modern medicine and say yes to the foods that will enable us to live our lives to the plus!