food and mental health A major link has been overlooked, or possibly just disregarded by society and by our “Health Care” industry. This is the link between the body and the brain. The link between nutrition and mental and emotional illness, or wellness per say. The link between how food affects our body and in turn affects the functioning of our brain, and how stress affects the functioning of our digestion and hence our body, resulting in more stress on our mental and emotional states, and how the two interact. 

More and more research is being brought forward on this link, and the public is becoming more and more aware. Books such as Wheat belly, Sugar Blues, and Grain Brain are becoming main stream and people are understanding that their emotions and thoughts are directly connected to what they are putting in their mouth and that food intolerances may not even show up as intestinal distress, but can show up in many different forms.

Gluten intolerance is the new “buzz word” and has been linked to all inflammatory diseases in the body and the brain….and is showing up rampantly due to the chemical altering by our food suppliers. Not to mention the lack of nutrients from depleted soils, and the chemicals our foods are laced with, and the effects this has on our neurotransmitters (chemicals used for communication between nerve cells).

Imbalances in amino acids and fatty acids wreak havoc on the brain as well, as we consume the ‘modern’ diet. Many people are having trouble coping with life, work, relationships and child rearing because of the lack of supportive nutrients in our diet, and the overflow of chemicals, sugar and processed foods flooding our systems.

So we are under chronic stress. We desperately try to function, as we lack the necessary fundamental backbone of nutrients we need to cope.

Chronic stress and traumas such as divorce at a rate of 67% and financial distress can actually interfere with blood flow to the gut and interfere hugely with digestion. This causes inflammation of the intestinal lining and gut permeability, allowing partially digested proteins to be absorbed, and as our immune system struggle with the onslaught, they lose track of which proteins in the body are which—and which to attack; and auto immune diseases are becoming one of the leading causes of death.

What can we do??

Awareness is number one. Being aware of what kinds of foods are or can be harmful, and being aware of how we feel instead of reaching for the next coffee or sweet or simple carb to boost us up will help us to make the necessary changes.

Profiles such as ADHD, Autism, Alzheimer’s Disease, sleep disorders, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and even schizophrenia, along with physical complaints such fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and other auto immune disorders are showing massive improvements with alterations in diet, and support for the intestinal micro flora in our guts. Neurological disorders that seemingly “can’t be helped” and are mysteries to Western medicine are being drastically improved by diet alterations and supportive nutrients.

Healing intestinal lining, pin pointing underlying issues in organs that may have been affected by our diet or stress levels, and supporting those organs: reducing stress in our lives; indulging in healthy pleasures are all healing routes to take.

Starting with foods that heal, and removing foods that harm are a first step in healing your life, your body, your mind, and anywhere else a person may feel powerless in their lives. This will give a person the clarity and energy to take action in areas one may have given up on, or just reluctantly accepted as less than desirable.

Foods to eliminate from one’s diet would be processed foods altogether. Sugar is as poison is to the system, and gluten can be extremely problematic for many people. There are wonderful healthy alternatives to these. Starting with a raw food cleanse is an excellent option. Add fresh fruit and vegetable juices, salads, and sprouts which provide large amounts of vitamins, minerals and enzymes needed for all functions of the body and brain. Healthy fats such as seeds, nuts, coconut oil, avocados, olives and olive oil are food for the brain. Sacha inchi seeds, chia seeds and walnuts are high in omega 3′ fatty acids; a crucial fatty acid involved in reducing inflammation and supporting brain and nerve function. Foods high in B-vitamins to support the nervous system are nutritional yeast, brewers yeast, and blackstrap molasses. Fermented vegetables and sauerkraut are excellent choices to support a healthy intestinal tract, which in turn supports a healthy nervous system.

All mental health starts in the gut, which means what we put in our gut is very important. The link between healthy food and a healthy mind is undeniable. Therefore be diligent and disciplined when it comes to what you are feeding your body, and your mental state will thank you!

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