Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Can What We Eat Fuel Depression?

Can What We Eat Fuel Depression?
On its own, that bag of Lay's or Dorrito's probably won't drive you to therapy. But have you ever found that when you eat something in particular your mood shifts for the worst? Or maybe after eating or drinking a certain food your body won't let you sleep? Or even worse, eating certain foods seems to bring on a type of depression?

Food is supposed to be nourishment for our bodies to function optimally. For the vast majority of us, food is necessary to keep us healthy and alive. Save the occasional swami who claims not to have eaten in some 70 years or so. I'm definitely not one of those.

So, what happens when our bodies don't like what we're feeding it? How do our bodies object?

Anyone who gets heartburn or abdominal cramping after eating can attest to the idea of food fighting back. But is the food actually fighting back, like those ridiculous commercials for heartburn medication shows? Or is there something else at play?

Our food supply is not what is used to be. Our grandparents ate food that was grown without GMOs, without chemical additives to the soil and the food itself. And certainly not to the degree we all eat today.

I was walking with a friend last week. She shared with me how she was adversely affected, both physically and mentally, after a weekend of caloric debauchery. Junk food, copious amounts of wine and more junk food were on the party menu for two whole days.

She paid dearly for that debauchery in decidedly unflattering and uncomfortable ways.

She tossed and turned all night. And when she did sleep, her dreams were filled with disturbing images. Her guts felt as though they were tied in knots. But what surprised her the most was how her mental state was affected.

Driving home on the last day, she found herself in a deep funk. She started questioning her value as a person. As a friend. Her thoughts took her to a very dark place. And this is a woman who is quite a happy person. So these thoughts were well outside of normal for her.

The only other thing that was abnormal for her was the way she had stuffed herself over that weekend. Especially when she looked in hindsight. Because within a couple of days of eating her usual plant-based diet, her mood, sleeping habits and unsettled gut were back to normal.

Food and Food Products

So, is there something in the food supply? Or is it the fact that most of what my friend had consumed could hardly be called "food". Barely "food products", if you ask me.

Someone once told me that if I knew how certain foods were produced, I'd never eat again. Interesting comment.

Fact is, I don't eat very much in the way of processed foods, which have been linked to fatigue, irritation and the "blues". And if processed foods do cause the blues, what happens when we overload on the stuff? Perhaps it's not such a leap that processed foods can bring on depression.

Alcohol all on its own is a depressant. So of course, add booze to the mix, symptoms of depression are more than just conceivable.

Refined sugars will give you that quick boost of energy, but then will drop you like a ton of bricks. You're left with a sugar hangover when your blood glucose levels crash. You'll feel a disruption in mood, depleted in energy, and may have difficulty sleeping.

And if you're thinking about artificial sweeteners as an alternative, think again. Aspartame, now re-branded AminoSweet, and other sugar substitutes block the production of the feel-good chemical serotonin in our bodies, which causes mood shifts, headaches and insomnia.

What we choose to put into our body will have an affect on how our body functions. Garbage in, garbage out, the saying goes. Eat junk, feel like junk.

So I'd say yes, most definitely. What we eat can indeed fuel depression. And if that's the case, can what we eat elevate our mood? Tune in for tomorrow's post.

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  1. I concur. What we eat definitely has an effect on how we feel. How can GMO not be harmful? It is not naturally. What's that old saying "don't fool with mother nature"

    1. Franken-food...what we ALL have to be aware and concerned about. The European nations seem to be getting it by banning GMOs. Canada and the States? Monsanto et al have our gov'ts in their pockets. Only WE can step up and bring about change.


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