You are what you eat

You are what you eat. That statement has been around for a long time. People even make jokes about it, saying things like, “I’m a French fry,” or “I’m a steak.” There are some serious realities about this, though.
At one level, we have to eat healthy foods to be healthy. I encourage patients to keep a food diary for a month and try to keep track of what days they feel best as far as their mood goes. Associations don’t always pop up because on one hand, there aren’t always direct relationships. If the patient tries to eat better, results aren’t always seen in the first month. Several years of eating an unbalanced diet won’t be wiped out by a month of vegetables and protein. On the other hand, an association is often observable. It gives the individuals strong support for eating the foods that make them feel better.
Looking more deeply into the importance of eating the right foods, we have to recognize that while a lot of neurotransmitters are generated in the brain, a lot of them are actually generated in the gut. [The “gut” is actually a term used in biology class, referring to the stomach and intestines.] The gut is actually called “the second brain.” It has a direct connection to the brain, but what’s really interesting is that if that connection is severed, the gut continues to do its job.
The field that does research on the relationship the chemicals we take in (food), the chemicals we make, and our health is called “psychoneuroimmunology.” Isn’t that a great word?? It’s a combination of Psychology, Neurology, and Immunology. There has been a lot of research on rats that is fascinating.
Researchers have transformed anxious rats into calm rats, and fat rats into thin rats. One of the methods they use is fecal transplanting. Yes. That means just what you think, but please don’t experiment on yourself! It’s not ready for humans yet. The point is that the bacteria in our guts has to be at a correct balance for us to be healthy, but it can also affect our physical make up.
I have one patient who is dealing with the pain of fibromyalgia. Her pain decreases significantly when she does not eat gluten. Another patient suffers severe depression if she ingests gluten. An interesting tangent about this is that when one of these women was traveling in Europe, the symptoms were not present when she ate gluten there. Apparently it has something to do with genetically modified wheat in the U.S. That is only one person’s experience, I realize. I have no idea what could work for every individual. The point is that we all need to be aware of what foods we eat are actually working against us.
In general, foods are chemicals, and chemicals can affect our mental health. As I understand it (this is not the area of my doctorate, but I did a lot of research for my clients), we need to focus on protein and vegetables. In addition, because there are millions of beneficial bacteria in our gut, we may need to replenish them, and that may mean taking a probiotic, especially after being on an antibiotic. I am not giving you medical advice, but I am encouraging you to discuss the possibility with your physician. I am also encouraging you to be aware of what you are eating and how you are feeling.

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