Does your physical health affect your brain? … Yes, the condition of the body can definitely influence mental state, and vice versa. Here we discuss the wisdom of looking at whole body nutrition with a particular focus on syndromes that affect both the body and the mind.
MindCheck now provides monthly in-depth information on the orthomolecular approach to coping with mood, behavior and psychotic disorders. This series by Dr. Ray Pataracchia N.D. is endorsed by the Mindful Network – ‘A Better Future for Children’s Mental Health’.
The Mind-Body Link – A Nutrient-Lifestyle Perspective
If you have a condition that affects your physical health then you may have nutrient deficiencies or metabolic imbalances that affect not only the body but also your brain and hence your mood, thinking ability, sleep quality, perception, and academic performance. Common orthomolecular syndromes affect the entire body.
Whole Body Nutrition for the Mind
Common primary problems in kids, teens and adults evolve with a crossover of both physical and mental state changes; this re-enforces the need for whole body nutritional support which can be provided optimally with targeted orthomolecular therapy.
Here we discuss physical conditions such as mal-digestion, poor protein intake, iron deficiency, thyroid/adrenal imbalance, and heavy metal toxicity.
Mal-Digestion: The Mind Body Connection
Poor digestion with symptoms that involve poor appetite, bloating, pain, discomfort, etcetera are a deterrent to nutrient absorption. The end result of poor digestion is lack of nutrients which can cause tiredness and an array of metabolic compromises that affect body and mind. Mal-digestion can also occur in those with food intolerances which have their own set of physical and mental state changes including skin conditions, tiredness, fatigue, insomnia, abdominal pain, etcetera.
Poor Protein Intake: The Mind Body Connection
High quality protein intake from meat and eggs is ideal for growth, development, and mental health.
‘Failure to Thrive’ is a common protein deficient state seen in kids that lack protein nutriture which can be due to poor diet or stress hormone cortisol breakdown of protein in the body. This can extend into adulthood if not corrected early and protein breakdown states in adults are not uncommon.
High quality protein animal meat and eggs are ideal for structural protein issues such as bone and muscle growth. A key denominator in metal health is also high quality protein because we need to make neurotransmitters on demand to support the mood and thinking centers of the brain. Top food sources of protein are described in this blog.
High quality protein from meat sources is also a great source of B12. If you have low B12, you have difficulty making neurotransmitters on demand and this compromises mental performance (at an academic and memory level), mood, and behavior. If you have low B12, you typically also have poor stamina, low energy, and various physical complaints such as constipation, diarrhea, stomach upset, canker sores, sore tongue, easy bleeding/bruising, bleeding gums, light-headedness, rapid breathing and heartbeat, pale skin, and weight loss.
Iron Deficiency: The Mind Body Connection
Common signs of iron deficiency include anemic tiredness and inability to swallow easily (dysphagia). The physical symptoms are extensive and the mental state changes are also important as iron is involved not only in oxygen carriage for brain cells to have sufficient fuel to manufacture neurotransmitters, but also for the manufacture of thyroid hormone.
Thyroid/Adrenal Imbalance: The Mind Body Connection
The thyroid gland manufactures hormones that affect the entire body. The thyroid gland found on the anterior neck has hormones that are utilized everywhere in the body. The thyroid gland is integral in brain function and is commonly associated in cases with fatigue, brain fog, poor digestion, heart palpitations, depression, anxiety, etcetera. Thyroid hormone acts as a green light at the DNA promoter region of cells and with adequate thyroid hormone cells have the go ahead to do what they are destined to do. The liver for example makes antioxidants and proteins (e.g. mineral carriers) and detoxifies. The digestive tract absorbs nutrients. The heart pumps blood oxygen, nutrients, immunoglobulins, etcetera. The spleen, brain, kidneys, and skin all require thyroid hormone. The effects are global.
The adrenal gland works in concert with the thyroid gland by negative feedback mechanisms and is involved in stress hormone (cortisol) release and regulation, blood pressure regulation, sugar regulation, and adrenaline production/regulation. Symptoms of poor adrenal function include generalized adrenal burnout, fatigue, dizziness, blurring vision, blood pressure imbalance, stress intolerance, insomnia (inability to fall asleep or waking in the middle of the night), morning and mid-afternoon tiredness, and lower back pain.
Heavy Metal Toxicity: The Mind Body Connection
Heavy metals cause symptoms throughout the entire body including poor memory (mercury), poor learning (lead), rapid up/down fatigue, headaches, allergies, nervous irritability, high blood pressure, and joint pain. Heavy metal toxicity is quite common in kids and adults.