Brain health begins in the gut.
Neurotransmitters (neuro hormones) that dictate mood, focus, energy, and drive behavior, are made in the gut. When the gut is not in good shape, these hormones do not get produced and can become imbalanced. The result is lack of focus and concentration, fatigue, mood swings, depression, and changes in behavior.
Our bodies will heal and rejuvenate when given the right tools, in the form of good, clean food. Here are the steps to take that will ensure that supplemental therapies have a chance to work, by making sure the gut is in good shape and, if it is not, help it to repair itself.
1. Eliminate food additives such as artificial colors, flavors, flavor enhancers, such as MSG, high fructose corn syrup, added sugar. The best way to do this is to limit processed foods and read labels.
2. Work to reduce gluten, dairy, corn, and soy. These are the worst offenders because they are the largest sources of toxins that we ingest. Also, these foods, by nature are the hardest to digest.
- Wheat products, if consumed, need to be made from organic wheat. For example, pasta imported from Italy is not raised with genetically modified grains (which makes it easier to digest), and not allowed to be sprayed with pesticides like in the United States. It is worth the extra few cents to eat food the body can use and will not be toxic
- Dairy can also be a big offender and should be eliminated also. If you consume dairy, it should be organic only, as non-organic dairy is raised in factory farms and fed genetically modified grain. That is also sprayed heavily with pesticide. The grain is used to fatten them up. It is easy to see those grains, consumed in large amount, will make you fat.
- Corn and soy are the top two crops that are genetically modified and toxic from pesticides.
3. Check labels on animal products from eggs to meat. Make sure they are labeled (antibiotic free and no GMO feed”). Factory farm animals, across the board, are fed antibiotics to prevent the spread of disease due to crowded conditions. In addition, animals that are inhumanely treated secrete extra stress hormones into their meat and we, in turn, eat them too.
4. Eat plenty of vegetables but also some fruit. In addition to fiber, vegetables and fruits contain important vitamins and minerals that facilitate metabolic function and assist the body in being able to make necessary vitamins and hormones to balance mood and create focus. They also contain phytonutrients (chemicals that fight inflammation, by destroying free radicals) *
*Free radicals are a chemical reaction, caused by oxidation, which happens naturally as cells process the oxygen that you breath. Oxidation is increased by fried foods, alcohol, tobacco smoke and pesticides. Your body can naturally repair itself. However, if it is overwhelmed, free radical damage can cause wrinkles, memory loss, the breakdown of organs, auto immune disease, heart disease, type II diabetes and cancer.
5. Drink plenty of fresh, filtered water. Toxins run into our water and are processed with chemicals, such as chlorine. Chlorine exacerbates certain mood disorders.
6. Detox Baths. Baths with Epsom salts, baking soda and peroxide can also help to increase detoxification. Baths should be a minimum of 15 minutes. This is important after swimming in a chlorinated pool.
7. Mop up the Mess. Activated charcoal is phenomenal for absorbing toxins. Taking charcoal capsules after swimming can help to absorb chlorine so it does not wreak any more havoc. Keep in mind that activated charcoal grabs anything so dose it away from any medication.
8. Protect the Gut Flora. Increase probiotics and enzymes as chlorine kills bacteria – good and bad! Healthy gut bacteria have many purposes – detoxing is one of many.
9. Know your triggers. Food sensitivities can promote inflammation and prevent the gut lining from healing. Some foods are silent irritants with no obvious signs that they are damaging. Invest in a food allergy and sensitivity test to be sure.
10. Free your mind. Use a journal or talk therapy, whether with a friend or professional to process thoughts and emotions that weigh heavily on your mind. Unprocessed emotions or thoughts can drain your energy, create anxiety, and keep your brain on high alert. This can impact sleep, preventing healing.
Lowering toxic load will be the best step to heal the gut and get balance back. It is overwhelming to try to make all these steps at once. Do the best you can and take small steps. Organic food is more expensive but also more nutrient dense as well as low in toxins. It is insurance that will help to prevent inflammation, premature aging, and chronic illness.
If you have any questions or comments about this topic or would like a nutrition assessment, please contact us.
Be your best health!
Certified Nutritional Counselor, Lifestyle Educator and Eating Psychology Coach