During my extensive studies at the Nutritional Therapy Association I have become extremely passionate about mental and digestive health. So much so, that I am starting to call myself a Holistic Performance Coach who specializes in mental and digestive health. The Nutritional Therapy Association focuses on a foundational approach to health that balances body chemistry. This includes, but is most certainly not limited to, mental wellness.
The foundations that I focus on as a Nutritional Therapist start with a whole foods, nutrient diet and adequate hydration. Then, we look to how your digestion is working and if you have any sugar handling issues or high stress situations going on in your life. Slowly, we implement proper dietary fats and minerals to help balance the body as needed. It’s fascinating to realize that our bodies truly work in a North to South fashion. We have this “control center” brain that dominates our body in its thought patterns. The “higher up” of the brain, however, is our digestive system. Every single system in the body depends on adequate digestion in order to obtain the nutrients it needs to thrive. Therefore, our being as a whole relies on a properly working digestive system to function properly. Why is this?
First off, if we cannot even get into any sort of relaxed state before we eat, then our rest + digest system, known as the parasympathetic nervous system, is going to shut off, which halts all nutrients, proteins, etc. from being absorbed properly. When we are living in a chronically stressed culture, encouraged to deal with unnatural remedies that have sadly become the norm in today’s society (NSAIDs, antibiotics, antacid pills, etc.), we are also not producing the right amount of stomach acid. Low stomach acid, which 90% of American’s suffer from yet is not recognized by the mainstream medical community, creates a vicious cycle of poor digestion, chronic gut inflammation, microbial overgrowth, leaky gut, elevated stress hormones and lowered nutrient absorption. Our stomach acid helps create a proper pH balance in our stomach, which is needed to split amino acids and create neurotransmitters - which play direct roles in our mental wellness. When our stomach acid is low, and we consume highly processed foods, along with foods we’re allergic or intolerant to (usually unconsciously so) on a regular basis, our body’s natural detoxification pathways get blocked and our production of serotonin and vitamin B12 are directly impacted, because both take place in our digestive tract.
Getting on top of your mental wellbeing with nutrition is relatively simple when I lay it out like this, but it is in fact far from simple. Something you may know all too well if you’ve ever suffered from stress, anxiety, depression, bipolarism, etc. Oh, just get in a good head space and take some precautionary methods to help produce proper stomach acid. Sure, however, our modern day foods are designed to be more pleasurable than nature. It doesn’t matter what I tell you about how harmful these highly refined/processed foods may do to your body, you’ll come up with your own excuses why you just can’t do it. Plus, there are a lot of emotional healing factors that come along with our mental wellbeing too that add to the challenges, however I still urge you to start with nutrition. Our food choices become our body chemistry, which directly reflects our perceived realities.
There is a way out, there areways to heal, there are hundreds of thousands of people taking steps to change the way they eat and view their own health, you don’t have to do it alone, you only need a willingness, to feel ready. As always, I encourage you to take on a conscious way of living and practice finding what works for your unique body. It’s not going to be fast or easy, but the person you’ll grow into will make it all oh so worth it.