Got a treat for you guys today.
Stefano, a fellow blogger contacted me to ask if he could write for me. I accepted his proposal cause I think what he does is awesome! He’s a holistic, lifestyle coach, meaning he totally knows what’s up when it comes to food and shit. As in, he knows what foods you should eat for a healthy life. And yep, the food you eat are linked to your emotional health. Let’s go!
Increasing emotional vitality is essential in order to experience a sustainable state of well-being & happiness. Emotional vitality is a multidimensional subject and holistic in nature. Eating habits, lifestyle factors and, of course, spiritual practice in everyday life are interdependent and interrelated, and heavily influence your emotional & mental state.
Emotions are an essential component of how we experience the world, and help us sense life. Being emotionally sensitive is to be sensitive to life. The more compromised your emotional vitality is the more disassociated you are from what is happening inside & around you, creating the base for anxiety, depression and dullness.
Let’s get clear about something. Who you are, your consciousness, is above your physical body. However, consciousness, in this human experience, is the physical product of bio-chemical interactions that create the electrical charge in your body, which you sense as your sentient awareness or awareness of yourself. Without that charge you couldn’t breathe, think, move, or do anything.
Everything that affect the biochemistry in your body, immediately affect the quality of your thoughts and emotions. The more chaotic your internal biology is, the more difficult it gets to think clear and make sense of yourself & the world around you.
Now, let’s see what are the most common roadblocks in maintaining an optimal biochemical balance for emotional stability and mental clarity.
Sugar, refined grains, pasteurised/homogenised dairy products, alcohol and highly processed foods in general disrupt the bio-chemical balance in the body, and ultimately the brain. Their metabolic by-products fill the neurotransmitter receptor sites in the brain, which under normal conditions facilitate the neurotransmitters naturally produced by the brain. The brain down-regulates its own production of neurotransmitters, even in the case that we do provide our body with the raw materials to manufacture them (high quality proteins). This creates chaos in the brain because these by-products don’t behave like natural neurotransmitters. That results to emotional & mental dysfunctions –feelings of anxiety, depression, mental fogginess etc.
Sound scientific research shows that about 50% of the human population have negative reactions to gluten. Only 12% of these individuals feel digestive discomfort (bloating, gas, reflex etc.). The others have extra-intestinal manifestation, which means that gluten sensitivity can show up as thyroid problems, joint aches, muscle issues, behavioural & mood issues, mental fog and other problems away from the bowels. The symptoms are experienced hours or days later.
Gluten causes immune reactions & inflammation in the gut, which leads to the gradual atrophy & destruction of the villi & micro-villi (the lining in the small intestine that is absorbing food molecules). That impairs the absorption of proteins (and also calcium, iron, b & c complex vitamins, trace minerals) which are necessary for neurotransmitter production.
What you see here is a vicious cycle. Processed food and gluten (which is contained in most processed foods) are preventing the natural functioning of the neurotransmitters in the brain, and at the same time, progressively limiting the ability of the body to produce them!
Sugar, coffee, tea, and energy drinks are very seductive to our body, because they cause a boost in serotonin levels in the brain, giving short-term emotional enhancement. However, they have medium to long-term negative effects.
Stimulants force the body to release “feel-good” chemicals which are making you feel fantastic. However, this sense is short-lived because the serotonin levels are subsiding very quickly. Not only that, the more you use stimulants to feel good the more you deplete the brain’s serotonin levels and you basically experience what is called “serotonin debt”, which creates exactly the opposite feelings. Now, you are more motivated to consume stimulants to elevate your decreased mood which cause more serotonin depletion. Also, stimulants supress appetite which keeps you away from eating the very foods that build serotonin (proteins).
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Check yourself for gluten intolerance. The cheapest and probably most reliable and accurate method is the following: go 60 days 100% without gluten. It takes about 60 days for the inflammation in the small intestine to even begin subsiding. After 60 days, assess how you feel; what is your emotional outlook in life; how your skin is affected; are you getting less pain & aches; are you losing weight? If you feel better, you are gluten intolerant and you should stay away from it. If you cannot notice a substantial difference, you are not gluten intolerant, or the changed happened so gradually that you didn’t sense it. In that case, deliberately ingest a lot of gluten containing foods for 2-3 days and assess how you feel.
Gluten Free Grains: Rice, Buckwheat, Millet, Amaranth, Quinoa, Sorghum, Arrowroot
Gluten Containing Grains: Wheat, Rye, Barley, Oats, Spelt, Kamut, Teff, Semolina, Couscous
Avoid processed foods and stimulants (coffee, tea, energy drinks –especially after 3pm) that interfere with the normal functioning of the brain and hormonal system.
Rotate foods. Try to rotate your foods (don’t eat the same foods for at least 3 days. E.g. if you eat apple, pears, broccoli, cabbage, chicken etc. on Monday, don’t eat them again up until Friday). Foods that you consume a lot are very likely to produce immune reactions, turning you intolerant to them.
Eat high quality proteins. Within the confines of your individual, nutritional, bio-chemical requirements (Metabolic Typing), consume grass-fed, morally & organically farmed animals. This high quality meat will support the recovery and repair cycles in your body, and give you a full hormonal and neurotransmitter profile.
Stefanos Matrakoukas is a Holistic Lifestyle Coach. He supports individuals implement & manage the principles that build health, vitality and well-being. He is the founder of CAUSE BASED APPROACH; a brand that runs events, talks, seminars & workshops that educate on well-being and redefine the context for fun & social interaction. Find more on causebasedapproach.com.