What you eat directly impacts your brain chemistry!
Every cell, tissue and molecule in your body is made up of the ingredients in your food. When you eat protein, your body breaks that down into amino acids, so it can build other necessary proteins. Fats are broken down into small fatty acids, which are used to create brain tissues, and certain hormones. And carbohydrates are broken down into smaller sugars, like glucose and fructose, which are put to work in the formulation of energy,
The minerals, vitamins and antioxidants within your food also provide your body with the right ingredients to function properly.
When we consume certain "foods", we damage our body in different ways, and rather than giving our body the building blocks to repair, grow and thrive, we cause inflammation and impairment.
The food we choose to eat also massively impacts the trillions of micro-organisms that make up the microbiome. If we choose poorly, damaging foods cause inflammation that creates intestinal permeability (leaky gut), this digestive imbalance is directly linked to depression.
The science is unmistakable when it comes to eating an anti-inflammatory diet. Those individuals eating more beneficial "healthy" foods, and less inflammatory foods, have a significantly lower risk of depression. Those healthy foods include good quality fats, antioxidants, and vital-minerals (vitamins).
Adding these anti-inflammatory foods is helpful, but even more important is to eliminate the more inflammatory foods, allowing your body the space to heal and grow.
Here are 4 proven inflammatory foods that when eliminated, can completely change your mental health:
1. Dairy - now your addiction to those yummy dairy products is no placebo.
Dairy contains morphine-like molecules that engage your opiate receptors! So a mild addiction is more bio-chemical than pure willpower.
If you experience depression or anxiety, taking out dairy could dramatically improve your symptoms. The inflammatory protein found in dairy is casein, and we know that casein drives inflammation and is linked to more than one psychiatric condition.
2. Gluten - I don't imagine you live on planet Earth if you haven't heard of gluten! It is found in wheat, barley, rye and contaminated oats, and it acts as the name suggests. It is a glue like protein.
These grains also contain similar proteins that cause most people lofty levels of inflammation. Gluten and its associated proteins cause gut irritation in your primary areas of absorption, and do grave damage to your gut bacteria.
The body's response to the inflammation caused by glutenous proteins is to manufacture zonulin. This leads to intestinal permeability (leaky gut).
Studies show gluten causes inflammation in the gut of healthy individuals, suggesting that gluten and gluten like proteins can cause damage and depression in everybody. Gluten is linked to headaches, anxiety, ADHD and depression. Removing gluten from your diet can have quick and profound effects.
3. Vegetable Oils - commercially manufactured vegetable oils are seriously unhealthy fats that are hidden in most processed foods. These highly processed and manipulated oils include safflower, corn, sunflower, soy and canola oil. To make things worse, most of these oils are made from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's).
What makes these processed oils so dangerous for us is our body does not recognize them. They are viciously heated and manipulated, so when they enter the body, your immune system sounds the alarm. These oils are directly linked to endocrine disorders, cardiovascular disease, cancer and depression.
4. Sugar - last but not least, we have one of the more well-known causes of systemic inflammation!
Sugar consumption goes up year after year, and one thing is evident from the science, sugar is addictive! Our biology has not evolved to biochemically handle our vast consumption of sugar, so many systems suffer as such.
Here is how it works: when you drink a soda or eat pasta, your blood sugar levels increase quickly after that consumption. This rise of blood sugar causes insulin to be released from the pancreas, and it removes that sugar from the blood. This removal causes a crash, and cortisol gets involved to place stored sugar into the bloodstream to compensate.
It is this process that leads to carb cravings, because your brain is always requiring a sugar supply, and then leads you to symptoms like headaches, anxiety, depression and irritability.
Having high levels of blood sugar is one of the highest risks factors of depression. Attempting to balance your blood sugar should be a primary focus.
What to do?
If you're serious about reducing your inflammation and depressive symptoms, I recommend giving yourself 3 weeks off sugar, gluten, dairy and vegetable oils. Research good quality, healthy alternatives, and reach out to us if you need some advice.
It can be difficult to make these types of changes alone. I recommend either working with a health practitioner, or perhaps taking them on with a friend or family member. Making habitual change is always easier with support.
Simon Brazier. Dip HN, NNCP