Tuesday, August 21, 2012

You Are What You Eat

I have no expertise in the area, but I am intrigued by the new research suggesting that microbes in your gut might have an effect on mood and attitude. Link here.

Apparently, microbial activity in the digestive tract affects brain chemistry. Ergo, eating right might well influence your mood.

These studies, admittedly very early stage, suggest that you might improve your mental health by eating healthier. They seem especially to focus on the nutritional value of probiotic yoghurt.

Of course, there is no real reason for not eating right.

We are intrigued by the research because we have been taught that mental illness should be medicated. Thus, we tend to downplay the influence of exercise and nutrition on our emotional well-being.

Surely, those who work with anorexic patients are well aware of the fact that compromising the digestive system and depriving the body of nutrients has an effect on brain chemistry.

If anorexics cannot think clearly, it might well be a side-effect of the damage they do to their digestive systems. Even more than stubbornness or unresolved issues.

If so, we might also question the mental health effects of certain kinds of diets.

And we can also ask about the mental health consequences of obesity. What effect does improper nutrition and deconditioning, factors that contribute to obesity, have on mood and attitude?

It has long been suspected that the obese are trying to self-medicate with food. What if their efforts at self-medication are disrupting their digestive systems to the point where they are aggravating their emotional problems? Thus, producing a vicious circle where they eat more  of the wrong foods ....

Does microbial activity make it exceptionally difficult for the obese to develop the kinds of good habits that would help them to overcome their condition?

The research feels important. Surely, there will be more to come.

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