Your Not Broken (Preview)
A preview from my upcoming ebook linking the the gaps between mental health and overall health, Please note this is just a draft and will be edited
(Originally posted on my other blog royeastham.com)
What does Blood Sugar Balance Have To Do With The Brain & Mental Health
Well, we’ve all probably experienced the feeling when we haven’t eaten enough and we get a headache, feel shaky, blurred vision and struggling to concentrate, This is what happens when our BS drops too low, The brain simply isn’t getting enough fuel.
There is lots of evidence correlating a healthy diet with the maintenance of mental health, However, a trend towards a reduction in the quality of adolescent diets has been observed at the global level (77). This trend is characterized by an increased intake of fast foods, fried foods, sweets, refined grains, processed meat, and a reduction of fruit/vegetable intake (76). The consumption of this Western-style diet has been independently associated with a greater risk for the development of anxiety and depression (76)
A 15-year-old female student of south-Asian descent, Was diagnosed with GAD (General Anxiety Disorder)
A diet history revealed the following typical daily food intake:
(i)Breakfast: fruit smoothie containing fruit, fruit juice, and water.
(ii)Morning snack: bagel with margarine.
(iii)Lunch: pasta or white rice with vegetables.
(iv)Afternoon snack: granola bar or cookies or gummy candies.
(v)After school meal: white pasta; it may include meat.
(vi)Dinner: white rice or spaghetti; it may include meat.
(vii)Evening snack: cookies and toast.
(viii)Beverages: 2 litres of water, 1 cup of juice, 1 cup of lactose-free milk, and 1 cup of tea.
At the initial visit, the following dietary plan was prescribed:
(i)Breakfast: it includes a smoothie containing fruit, water, 1 scoop of protein powder, and 1 tablespoon of flax seeds or olive oil.
(ii)Lunch and dinner: they include a serving of protein (meat, legume, and soy) and a serving of vegetables.
(iii)Snacks: they include protein when possible (e.g., apple with sunflower seed butter, vegetable sticks with hummus, and pumpkin seeds).
(iv)Continue to eat carbohydrate-containing snacks as needed for the management of hypoglycemia symptoms.
At the first follow-up, four weeks later, she reported that she had complied with the dietary plan since the previous visit. She reported a significant decrease in anxiety (4 to 5/10) compared with (8 to 10/10), as well as improved energy, less frequent and less intense hypoglycemia symptoms, and fewer headaches (once per week compared to daily) in addition to improved concentration and mood. She required fewer snacks during the day and decreased her intake of granola bars, cookies, and candies (1-2 servings per day).
At a subsequent follow-up visit four weeks later, she reported that she had briefly reverted back to her original diet for a period of one week and experienced a worsening of anxiety symptoms within one day. After returning to the dietary intervention prescribed, her anxiety symptoms decreased within two days.
This case illustrates an example of improved anxiety and hypoglycemia symptoms in response to changes in the macronutrient composition of the diet. It suggests that dietary GI (Glycemic index) and blood sugar balance, within a physiologic range, may play a role in the development or clinical progression of anxiety. Subsequently, modifying the diet by reducing the consumption of refined carbohydrates and including more protein, fat, and fibre may be beneficial (77.)
Too much sugar and starchy foods are a major promoter of inflammation in the brain, and when inflammation affects the brain, neurons die rapidly and in great numbers, speeding up brain ageing and increasing the risk for neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s (59.)
In order for our brain to make neurotransmitters it needs the goldilocks effect for sugar in the brain, Too much or too little then our Neurotransmitter production is compromised.
Blood sugar imbalances are a big issue today and it’s no coincidence that brain chemistry imbalances are also a big issue.
When we eat too many sweets, starchy carbs, those sugary drinks that go by the name as coffee, all this causes a surge in insulin to stop BS rising to high, When insulin is too high Branched Chain Amino Acids are refused entry to the brain, leaving Tryptophan to travel to the brain alone.
Tryptophan gets made into Serotonin. The issue with this is that we now have too much serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is calming which is why people, after they have had a high starchy meal, may feel drowsy and sleepy. After the serotonin levels drop, people may feel depressed, spurring once again those cravings for sweets and starchy foods for that “high” they get from the serotonin surge.
Overproduction of serotonin can lead to serotonin production being impacted. The end result over time is a loss in effective serotonin activity and increased symptoms of low serotonin, such as depression, loss of interest in life, seasonal affective disorder, and more.
So the effect of too much insulin in the body leads to, too much Serotonin being produced, What about Hypoglycemia (Low BS)
Well, it’s kind of the opposite, There isn’t enough Tryptophan being produced and transported to the brain so not enough Serotonin is made. Another factor is that hypoglycemia lowers overall glucose levels in the brain. Adequate glucose is necessary to fuel energy in the brain, including the energy to produce serotonin.
This same principle applies to dopamine, our “pleasure and reward” neurotransmitter. As with a serotonin deficiency, a dopamine deficiency can produce symptoms of depression. Other symptoms include feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, lack of motivation, and a tendency to snap or fly into a rage over little things