Does my brain look big in this?

Does my brain look big in this?

So, you made it through January with all its health messages and diet advice.  Did you attempt something new? Did you give something up? Or did you hunker down, stay warm and stick to going about your daily life, business as usual?

Here, Natasha Hodge from Happy People Solutions discusses how food really can mess with your mind….

What would be the reason for changing your comforting habits? Usually its because you think you might be rewarded in some way. You might lose a few pounds (that’s still the biggest motivator for most people) or you might gain more energy.

Excuse the pun, but do you think about the effect food has on your brain? Losing a few pounds with the latest health trend might actually be damaging your most important asset.  Most people are more concerned about the size of their behind than what is going on inside their skull.

Let’s take a look at worrying trends in mental health and the link to changes in the quality of our food.

  • In 2018 there were 322 million people worldwide suffering from depression, that was an 18.4% increase in just 10 years from 2005-2015.
  • Also in 2018, 264 million people worldwide were suffering from anxiety disorders, an increase of 15% between 2005 and 2015.  These trends are predicted to continue.
  • Cases of dementia are exploding, with 10 million new cases diagnosed each year, it is expected to triple by 2050 from its current 50 million cases worldwide.

Why is this happening?

If we look at changes in the dietary habits worldwide, we can see a link.  Calories from sugar, a refined carbohydrate, has increased 32% between 1962 and 2000.

The consumption of seed/vegetable oils have increased 300-600% between 1985 and 2010.

Both of these groups of foods, that were not as prevalent pre-20th century, are having an impact on our brains. Coupled with chemical additives designed to enhance food production, but not designed to enhance our bodies, the adverse mental health outcomes are snow balling.

You’ve probably heard of a sugar crash? That dip in energy after having something sugary. I doubt you’ll realise that when this happens the body perceives it as an emergency and releases the stress hormone cortisol. Stress is inflammatory. It puts your body and brain in fight or flight mode and puts all your cells, including your brain, at risk of oxidation.

Oxidation is not good. It’s not just after a sugary treat either, it is after any food that is carbohydrate based (carbohydrates break down into sugar). For many people, that will be after every meal or snack as they eat cereal (sugar) for breakfast, a sandwich (sugar) for lunch, and pasta (sugar) for dinner with various biscuits (sugar), crisps (sugar) or fruit (sugar) as snacks in between. Up to six crashes and cortisol responses per day. Six lots of oxidation for your brain per day, 365 days per year over a lifetime.  Adds up doesn’t it? It’s certainly adding to those statistics previously mentioned.

What does your brain require to function well? The brain is made up of two thirds fat. 20% of that fat needs to be DHA, and the only form the body can absorb fully is found in animal foods, salmon being an excellent source. It also requires protein for its repair and antioxidant actions and for the neurotransmitters.  The brain is loaded with cholesterol – 20% of the body’s cholesterol is housed in the brain and as the brain weighs only 2% of total body weight you can see how important cholesterol is.

The other items it requires is glucose (manufactured by the body) and ketones, an alternative energy source, plus essential vitamins and minerals.  That’s it. No fibre, no ‘complex carbohydrates’ or ‘plant based whole foods’ etc. The latest trend towards veganism does not take these requirements and how we can absorb them into account.

When it comes to restoring balance and enhancing the brilliant kit we have ‘upstairs’ and moving away from mental health issues, the focus has definitely got to be on removing the foods that are having devastating health effects worldwide.

Happy People Solutions are helping on a small scale, by impacting individuals that recognise that brain health means whole body health. Coming soon our brand new 10-week online course Good Food for Great Mental Health.

Visit to sign up to the Early Bird offer.

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