If there is one thing that is emerging in modern-day understanding of psychological health it is the link between our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations and our body’s biochemistry. What we think changes how we feel, and vice versa. Feelings are accompanied by physical sensations. But all of these are associated with corresponding changes in our internal biochemistry. Biochemical changes affect how we feel and think. Knowing this, the obvious deficits of conventional psychiatry are that a) most diagnoses are only based on the results of questionnaires about psychological symptoms, and b) most treatments are based on giving chemical drugs (hopefully alongside some psychotherapy). This approach doesn’t take into account the biochemical side of the equation where making dietary changes, a more effective, less expensive and less invasive approach, can pave the way to feeling good while avoiding the use of man-made drugs with their often worrying side effects. Sounds good doesn’t it?
When you feel exhausted, depressed, stressed or anxious, the chances are you wouldn’t consider that your digestive system, or a food you’ve eaten, could have anything to do with it. But the gut and our emotions are linked. In the same way that nervousness can upset the tummy, so foods that don’t “agree with us” can upset our mind. Most strong emotional feelings are felt physically somewhere along the digestive tract. We feel them in our gut and often experience them affecting our appetite and our ability to digest properly. The digestive system acts like a second “brain” producing factors that literally “cross-talk” with the brain. Your second “brain” reacts every time you eat a piece of food. The gut lining, which makes up a surface area about the size of a tennis court and the thickness of half of a sheet of paper, is the interface between you and your food, and is programmed to react against anything eaten just in case it is foe.
Most people don’t think of food allergies and food intolerance as having the potential to affect mood and behaviour. Yet it has been known for a very long time that reactions to foods can cause chronic fatigue, tiredness, low mood, poor concentration, anxiety, hyperactivity, panic attacks and lack of motivation in susceptible individuals. 99% of the time, the job of a healthy immune system “which is more active in the gut than anywhere else” is to switch off that reaction so you can enjoy the food you’re eating without your body fighting it.
There are many factors that can contribute to our feelings of wellbeing, but we shouldn’t underestimate the value of healthy eating. Deficiencies in essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and amino acids have all been implicated in depression. With nutritional support to optimise your diet and manage any food reactions, you too can pave the way to better health.