Your Brain, Mental Health & Food

I'm a big believer in practicing what I preach. Everything I recommend to clients I've done or do myself, have read or have tried. Since having Ben, the one big exception has been my physical health. Having a family and two offices keeps me busy and it's easy to brush some things off to the side but I was tired of the excuse and decided to get congruent with my physical health as well -- knowing I have the privilege of being a trailblazer for many of my clients.   

If you've been to my Westminster office, you'll already know that we share a suite with Mederi Health. They're a comprehensive interactive health practice that includes chiropractic care and functional medicine. 


I recently sat down with Dr. Lisa Holden to let her work me up after a conversation about not feeling all that great. We ran some tests, one of which looks at food sensitivities (and is the subject of this article), and I recently got my results back. We talked over the details and I was going to have to make some nutrition-based choices based on the results of the test. This meant giving up some of the foods I love for six months to give my body a chance to detox and heal. For me, I'll be giving up grains, dairy, HCFS, & certain spices, fruits, and veggies. 

Now I've read a lot over the years about nutrition and mental health, including the dramatic effects that sugar has on the brain and the inner workings of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI for short). Despite that fact, I've never paid much mind to how food really affects my overall wellness. Sure, I've noticed weight loss and weight gain but what I'm coming to find is that there's a whole slew of other effects we aren't always aware of. 

Check out this TedEd video by Nicole Avena for some information about how sugar changes your brain (and what we really mean when we say "sugar"):

As of writing this, I'm a couple weeks into my protocol and have noticed some pretty significant (to me) findings even this soon. 

  • I sleep way, way better. This also contributes to my wife's mental health, too, as I'm not snoring. I can fall asleep, wake up, and go back to sleep with ease -- I no longer feel like I got hit by a bus. 
  • I can breathe better. 
  • I have a ton of extra energy I didn't have before.  
  • I've lost weight -- more than I expected would happen this soon.
  • I hurt less -- this will probably be true for you too if you have joint pain.
  • My mind is much more still and quiet.

I won't bore you by trying to link all of these changes together (i.e. better sleep = less stress = more energy) but I will say this. It's amazing how much about your mental world -- your thoughts, feelings, emotions, responses to situations -- can be altered by changing your food intake on a regular basis. Even if you're not trying to change your weight, but want to try to do better for your health I'd highly recommend considering changing your sugar/grain intake. 

Have you experienced a change in your mental wellness, thought patterns or relationships after changing your diet? I'd love to hear about it