Gut Health and Mental Health

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This past week, I have been walking roughly two miles around the local high school track with my mom and my sister, have begun tracking my food intake with My Fitness Pal, and have started wearing my FitBit Charge 2 again. Today I went grocery shopping with my mom for healthy food. We meal prepped for four people for five days/meals.

Tonight I made (well had a little bit of assistance from my sous chef aka mom since she hates cooking, but likes to prep food) some wild salmon with lemon and dill along with asparagus. It was good, but all I have been craving is potato chips! I almost had a good eating day… I had scrambled eggs for breakfast, fruit and a huge stuffed mushroom with spinach and mozzarella cheese for lunch and the salmon for dinner totaling around 1350 calories and with my exercise today, I hit my target! But then I had 4 cups of buttered popcorn, a 20 oz redbull, a bowl of froot loops, a piece of buttered toast, and roughly 40 chips which put me around the 1975 calorie range for the day. I know that I am just starting out so it’s normal to have cravings and give in to the urges, but it’s frustrating when you just want to see the results with real, live weight loss or at least lose some inches around my waist.

It also got me thinking about what we eat in regard to mental health. I personally believe that the body is very intricate, delicate, and fragile and is all interconnected to every cell, membrane, organ, veins, bones, etc. So whatever affects one bodily function or organ has a drastic affect on the other. I previously thought that mental health only affected the brain and the immune system, but after skimming through a book my personal trainer, health nut sister told me to read, I am sure that your GI tract and gut overall does affect your brain and therefore your mental health and vice versa. The book is called, “Gut and Psychology Syndrome” by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.

The book asks questions like “Do vaccines trigger autism?” and “If treating gut issues cures those of schizophrenia, what about medication?” The book uses archaic, politically incorrect language saying that those with mental illness are “insane” and use phrases like “kids with autism were meant to be disabled!” Although it is an interesting read by an accredited doctor for neurology and nutrition, she concludes *spoiler alert* that everything starts with the gut and a lot of mental illnesses, disabilities, deficiencies start there. Since the main part of our bodies is the GI tract, what we consume has a direct affect on our moods, our mental wellness, and our overall health. Okay, I follow so far.

Do vaccines cause autism?

But then the author talks about autism and vaccines and admits that vaccines do not cause autism, but states that many people who develop autism tend to be immunodeficient and so are their family members. So when it comes to giving a vaccine to an immunodeficient person, it’s a severe blow to the body when you have to fight off the injected illness when you yourself are sick and can develop an adverse reaction to the vaccine or it could even trigger autism. wHaT? I reread the information over and over again and it still doesn’t logically make sense to me. To my understanding, and trust me, I am no doctor, but it would be the genes in the family tree that two parents would pass on to their child that would then provide a gene in the child that designates whether a child has an immunodeficiency or a condition such as autism or schizophrenia, not the vaccine. I do concede the fact that vaccines do not always help the immuno-compromised, but they do more good than harm overall. Without childhood vaccines, we could potentially die. The worst thing you could have even if a vaccine caused an adverse reaction is maybe some cold symptoms or a rash. And hypothetically let’s say vaccines DO cause autism, the book makes it sound like a death sentence, even though millions of people all over the world are high functioning and still are on the autism spectrum.

Mental illness cure?

Like we established previously, most people’s genealogy has some faults and immune issues are far more prevalent in society than it ever has before. With that being said, more conditions of mental illness and other illnesses are almost normalized because it seems as though just about everyone has a family member or a friend with one issue or another. With that being said, most people in their lifetimes struggle with their gut, and since the gut is the epicenter of the body, the bad toxins go to your brain. How do you get rid of the toxins? By eating foods that restore the inner lining of your stomach and are gut healthy, of course! Once you flush the toxins from your system, the book says, that you will eventually be cured of your mental illness! Again… what.

How in the world can you be cured of something so severe as schizophrenia by cutting gluten out of your diet? I just don’t see much of a correlation, let alone causation. Currently there are no cures for any sort of mental illness, only treatments. The book states you have to slowly ween yourself off anti psychotics after you have been “cured” from being gluten free or else the schizophrenic person can go through major withdrawals and have to start the process over again. How could you tell that the new diet was the reason for “cured” schizophrenia? How do you know that it wasn’t the meds or therapy or coping mechanisms? There are too many variables that you can’t isolate and find a true answer. Maybe if you’re taking all your meds and go on a better diet, it can help with your symptoms, but I am not sold on the fact that you can be cured, even with diet, meds, and therapy.

Take away

There are some okay points made in this book and I do believe that what we eat and drink affects our overall health, whether it be physical or mental. But the more I read, the more it infuriates me at how something so mundane as the gut could cure illnesses such as schizophrenia, ADHD, ADD, etc. Until we can fix or change our DNA of mutations that cause these abnormalities in our well being, there won’t be a cure. In the meantime, all we can do is medicate, use our coping mechanisms, go to therapy, and DO OUR RESEARCH. If diet works for you and your mental health, great! Keep doing it, but know it isn’t your only recourse of action to fight the good fight.

Til Next Time,

Dani

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