It`s not realistic to have a perfect diet, but what many of us eat today is so far removed from what our ancestors ate and what our body is designed to eat and thrive on. This is food from the earth, nature, what “God” made not what “Man” made in the factories! We are surrounded by fast food outlets, junk foods and many isles in the supermarket full of processed foods loaded with sugar, additives, chemicals and sweeteners.
Today processed and “fake” foods can make up a significant part of many peoples` diets. These foods deprive our bodies of nourishment and can radically alter our brain chemistry. Many food manufacturers test and test and create “food” that achieves a bliss point. Blends of salt, sugar, fats and additives that make a food intentionally addictive so you want more and more. Most people want one more cookie or biscuit. Or once you`ve popped some Pringles you can`t stop! (That was certainly me in the past).
Many processed foods such as cereal bars are loaded with ingredients many can be intolerant to such as wheat, corn syrup or soya. They also shoot up your blood sugar with the subsequent crash shortly later so then you crave more as you are not satisfied.
Although humans hardwired to seek out sweetness it previously was from mother`s milk, wild berries or wild honey. Excess sugar and refined carbs greatly contribute to health issues such as heart disease and diabetes but can also be as addictive as heroin and cocaine. Sugar gives your brain a boost of dopamine which is a pleasure-reward chemical. Although we need some dopamine to function well and be motivated, excess dopamine from addictions such as sugar, nicotine and gambling flood the brain with dopamine so the body wants more and more to reach this high again and again.
Another interesting point is that excess sugar and refined carbs affect the amount of insulin produced in the body. Insulin is produced to take sugar into the cells. However when too much insulin is produced overtime this then blocks another hormone leptin. Leptin is vital for appetite regulation and food intake. So the sensation of being full is blocked and you end up eating more.
Many diet drinks and products have added sweeteners which many people can react to and give symptoms such as headaches, migraines, anxiety and tinnitus. Research shows that artificial sweeteners can confuse the brain`s reward centre stimulating appetite and hunger.
Processed and Rancid oils found in deep fried foods, junk foods, crisps, doughnuts etc – damage our cells and can contribute to inflammation in our brain which has many consequences. (Our brain is actually made from “healthy fats”). These oils are part of the reason for some health issues such as depression, suicidal tendencies, mood disorders and brain deterioration.
Our taste buds can change overtime so we can start to enjoy the flavours and tastes of real, life promoting foods.
Of course other factors promote good brain health such as love, social connection, purpose, exercise, reducing stress and meditation. But what we eat has a profound effect on the health of our brain and mental wellbeing. Anne xx