A Spoonful Of Happiness
- 10 Months ago
Mood swings and nutrition are related; in fact, the digestive tract acts as our second brain.
Amitabh Rekhi, 43, has a moody 13-year-old son and an edgy 40-year-old wife. While Rekhi blames his busy life, full of travelling across continents and lack of time, and his wife laments leading the life of a single mother, their son's moods are turning into a personality trait both are worried about. So what makes the Rekhi family The Brooders? It is what is served on the family's dinner table.
The Gut Connection
Science is discovering that the digestive system acts like a ‘second brain', producing neurotransmitters (such as serotonin), hormones and immune-transmitters (called cytokines), which literally cross-talk with the brain. These cytokines have receptors on the immune cells and the brain cells. We now know that every emotion we experience has a direct effect on our nervous, digestive, endocrine and immune systems. And this is why more and more chronic patients with untreated immune disorders and psychological issues for years on end, are now feeling better as their digestive system is treated and the flora of the digestive tract is restored. Examples of success include people suffering from stress, severe depression, immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and ankylosing spondylitis and unexplained aches and pains.
Get Gut Fit
Your ‘second brain' reacts every time you eat. In his book, The Feel Good Factor, Patrick Holford, founder of The Institute of Optimum Nutrition in the UK, explains that the gut lining is the interface between you and your food, and it is programmed to react against anything eaten just in case it is a foe. Ninety-nine per cent of the time, the job of a healthy immune system-which is more active in the gut than anywhere else-is to switch off that reaction so you can enjoy the food you're eating without your body fighting it. It is no wonder then that, if you're not gut-fit, you're compromising your immune system.
That switching-off mechanism can be assisted by increasing your intake of omega-3 fats that not only stop the gut from becoming inflamed (they're anti-inflammatory), but also stop psychological inflammation-in other words, the feelings of aggression, irritability and depression, the last of which is sometimes anger turned inwards.
Secondly, intake of probiotics helps cytokines do their job properly and calm down inflammation in the gut, as well as send signals to the brain to calm down, reducing stress reactions. Research has found that probiotics supplements can lead to improvement in the moods of those who are prone to depression. Probiotics are available in the form of sachets, tablets and drinks.
If you're on any blood thinner, pain-killer or if your intake of alcohol is high, it is imperative to switch-off and restore your flora, which, in turn, restores your immune system and hence, protects your health. Being on long-term allopathic medications can lead to a compromised stomach lining and a higher incidence of food allergies, which trigger the cycle of tiredness, depressed mood, poor concentration, anxiety, slowed thought processes, lack of motivation, irritability, agitation, aggressive behaviour, nervousness, anxiety, depression, alcoholism and substance abuse.
In children, food allergies can lead to mood swings, depression, schizophrenia, hyperactivity (ADHD), panic attacks, autism and varied learning disabilities.
The treatment for the Rekhis is simple: restoration of the stomach flora via probiotics, elimination of foods that cause allergies (the most common are dairy and wheat), and an uptake of omega-3s and good fats via extra virgin olive oil (raw), oily fish (not fried), walnuts, flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds along with fresh vegetables and fruits. It's not a bad bargain to trade for a smiling face, right?
Reproduced from Outlook Business's Wellness Column by Rachna Chhachhi.