Can Food Influence Mental Health?
At the moment I am reading about the connection between food and mental health. The number of women/girls I have trained over the years whose depression, anxiety and general wellbeing has improved with good nutrition is crazy, and it’s something I am really passionate about. It’s surprising that we can be given food with little or no understanding of its consequences on our physical and emotional health.
I’ve read a lot about the subject as I have always believed in it through personal experience, but it was hard in the past to find good information. Modern research shows strong links between nutrition and psychological health, too much info to share in a post but here’s a bit of something I’m reading by psychiatrist Patrick Holford for anyone interested in the topic
“Most food allergies provoke mental and emotional changes. This is an idea that has been resisted by conventional allergists, but it has been well proven by clinical tests, scientific analysis and people’s experiences. We’ve learned that brain cells ‘communicate’ through the action of neurotransmitters. This is the whole foundation of a chemical model of mental health. Yet brain cells are not unique in being able to communicate in this way. Immune sells in the digestive tract, blood and body tissues also have receptors to many neurotransmitters.
Scientists are beginning to discover that there is a lot of ‘talking’ going on between the brain and nervous system, the immune system and endocrine system. One of the most established links is the ‘talking’ between the gut and the brain via gut hormones and neurotransmitters. Simultaneously, we are discovering a much closer connection between allergies and mental health.”
30 patients suffering from anxiety, depression, confusion or difficulty with concentration were tested, using placebo-controlled trial, to discover whether individual food allergies could really produce mental symptoms in their individuals. The results showed that allergies alone, not placebos, were able to produce the following symptoms; severe depression, nervousness, feeling anger without a particular object, loss of motivation and severe mental blankness. The foods/chemicals that produced the most severe mental reactions were wheat, milk, cane sugar, tobacco smoke and eggs.
96 patients diagnosed as suffering from alcohol dependence, major depressive disorders and schizophrenia were compared to 62 control subjects selected by adult hospital staff members for a possible food or chemical intolerance. The results showed that the group of patients diagnosed as depressive had the highest number of allergies. 80% were found to be allergic to barley and 100% were allergic to egg white. Over 50% of alcoholics tested were found to be allergic to egg white, milk, rye and barley. Out of the group of people diagnosed as schizophrenics 80% were found to be allergic to both milk and eggs. Only 9% of the control group were found to suffer from any allergies.
Routinely treated schizophrenics, who on admission were randomly assigned to a diet free of cereal grain and milk while on the locked ward were discharged from the hospital in about half the time the control patients assigned to a high-cereal diet were. Wheat gluten secretly added to the cereal-free diet abolished this affect, suggesting that wheat gluten may be a cause of schizophrenic symptoms in susceptible individuals.
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