The Body Ecology Diet (BED) Column
......with Donna Gates
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Wednesday, September 14th, 2011:
Emotional Eating: Food to Boost Your Mood
The Food Mood Connection
- A cup of coffee to brighten your morning.
- A glass of wine with dinner to unwind.
- A pint of Häagen Dazs when you feel emotional.
What do these have in common? They are all ways that we use food to change our mental or emotional state.
The modern palate is used to and expects extremely rich foods. This is called reward value. (1)Food, like drugs, has a reward value.
- This means that different foods work upon certain areas of the brain or with certain brain chemical messengers, called neurotransmitters.
- Food can be used as a way to “self-medicate”.
- Over time, we get accustomed to certain foods providing certain results.
When eating most modern processed foods, you may achieve a momentary good feeling, such as satiety or calmness, but this is at the cost of the bigger picture. Such as:
- Causing a blood sugar spike.
- Putting stress on the endocrine system.
- Feeding a low-grade infection in the body.
Doesn’t seem like a big deal? Think about the fact that we eat several times a day, hundreds of times a month. This kind of stress quickly adds up. Wacky blood sugar and an exhausted endocrine system are two factors that are strongly related to many of our modern diseases.
Anxiety, Insomnia, and Depression
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is the chief neurotransmitter of the nervous system that has an inhibitory effect. This means that it turns your nervous system down, rather than amps it up. People with low levels of GABA or a GABA imbalance may feel:
- Anxiety or panic for no reason
- A sense of dread
- “Knots” in the solar plexus region
- Guilt regarding choices
- Overwhelmed for no reason
- Inner tension
What causes an imbalance in GABA? There are a number of factors affecting GABA:
- How it is made.
- How the body breaks it down.
- The availability of GABA receptors to receive the neurotransmitter.
While a GABA imbalance may look the same for many people, the mechanism for each person is unique. If you are working with GABA levels, consider blood sugar. We know, for example, that glucose helps the body make GABA. Therefore, blood sugar imbalances like hypoglycemia or insulin resistance will limit GABA production.
A Healthy Gut Makes You Happier
It turns out that beneficial microflora found in the gut actually seem to increase GABA receptors in the brain. (2) An increase of GABA receptors in the brain is a good thing, especially since a decrease has been associated with mood disorders, like chronic depression. (3) Good bacteria actually help to bring the brain into a state of balance. (4)(5)(6)
Without proper microflora in the gut, pathogenic infection will begin to dominate. Even a silent systemic infection can show up decades later in the form of serious neurodegeneration, like Alzheimer’s disease. (7) Other modern diseases are things like type II diabetes, heart disease, dementia, autoimmune disorders, and childhood developmental disorders.
Fermented Foods and Beverages Rescue Your Gut
Food can contribute to a balanced state of mind. We suggest fermenting foods and liquids, rather than taking a probiotic supplement.
- If you choose to ferment vegetables, such as cabbage or daikon, choose the Veggie Culture Starter in order to introduce healthy bacteria to your vegetables.
- The Kefir Starter can be used to ferment both coconut water and raw, grass-fed diary.
- Body Ecology offers fermented beverages like InnergyBiotic to make getting your daily dose of beneficial microflora easy.
- The Body Ecology Core Program is designed as the foundation for gut health.
What to Remember Most About This Article:
Food is often used as a reward or to self-medicate. When we eat modern, processed foods, we are momentarily rewarded with a feeling of calmness or satiety. However, these same foods can cause a spike in blood sugar to put stress on the endocrine system. These two factors contribute to a number of modern diseases.
Supporting your gut with beneficial bacteria can increase GABA neurotransmitters in the brain to balance your mood and even reduce chronic depression. Even better, good gut bacteria will protect your health over the long term to reduce the risk of heart disease, dementia, and type II diabetes.
1. Guyenet, Stephen. Food Reward: A Dominant Factor in Obesity, Part I. Whole Health Source. April 28 2011.
2. Javier A. Bravo, et al. Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve. PNAS 2011 : 1102999108v1-201102999.
3. Cryan JF, Kaupmann K (2005) Don’t worry ‘B’ happy!: A role for GABA(B) receptors in anxiety and depression. Trends Pharmacol Sci 26:36e43.
4. Sartor, R. Balfour. Probiotic therapy of intestinal inflammation and infections. Current Opinion in Gastroenterology: Gastrointestinal Infections. Vol 21: 1, 44-50. Jan, 2005.
5. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of a probiotic in emotional symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. GUT PATHOGENS. Vol 1, Num 1, 6. 19 Mar 2009. DOI: 10.1186/1757-4749-1-6
6. Chronic Gastrointestinal Inflammation Induces Anxiety-Like Behavior and Alters Central Nervous System Biochemistry in Mice. Gastroenterology. Vol 139 : 6, 2102-2112.e1, Dec 2010.
7. Letenneur L, et al. PLoS One. 2008; 3(11):e3637.
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