Many people already realize how much food affects how they feel. Often after eating too much sugar- or gluten- containing products, many feel tired, sluggish, achy, bloated and other less-than-desirable sensations. We think of it as just a temporary discomfort, but these mild to extremely uncomfortable feelings may create more chronic issues than we realize. At the same time, we must consider the positive effects of food; we are certainly made of the building blocks of what we eat. When building a house, you can use high-quality bricks, perfect wood studs and the best of shingles, or you can use the cheapest materials possible—warped planks and materials that may not meet building codes. Our bodies are really not that different.
It’s unbelievable to me that many of my patients have told me that their doctors—often gastroenterologists and endocrinologists—tell them that food has no impact on their health. Besides the massive improvements my patients feel and see as a result of dietary modification, they often report significant improvements in their mood. They report energy, clarity and calmness, as well as a reduction in anxiety, anger and depression—all directly related to what they eat. Many of them originally came to me for digestive, hormonal or autoimmune issues, but end up finding great relief in their emotional states as well.
For those that seek help primarily with their behavior and mood, the first thing we check is digestion and diet. The vast majority of patients—both child and adult—having mood and behavioral imbalance have a digestive problem, even if they don’t realize it. Many ask, “Why do digestive problems and poor diet cause mood and behavior issues?” There are so many mechanisms; I’ll discuss a few.
The digestive tract is home to many functions having little to do with actual digestion. First is the immune system. Your digestive tract contains 70 to 80 percent of the body’s entire immune system. Problems involving immune function often present as allergies, skin issues, post nasal drip, swelling, and as mentioned, digestive problems. The second major nondigestive function of the digestive tract is neurotransmitter and hormone production. Neurotransmitters are the compounds that become our thoughts and reactions to our environment. Changes in this function can cause enormous changes in mood and behavior. Hormones both directly and indirectly are manufactured in the digestive tract. Many of these hormones control mood, appetite, blood sugar levels, and other blood chemistries, among other functions.
Our digestive tract has an enormous influence on how we feel, think and act; food can exacerbate that. There are foods that irritate us and cause inflammation, and there are foods that tend to be calmative. Examples of inflammatory and irritating foods include sugars; simple carbohydrates; poor-quality fats and proteins, such as pork products and most conventional meats and cheeses; artificial coloring; preservatives; and genetically modified foods. Examples of calming foods include grass-fed and organic meats; organic or unprocessed vegetables; and foods containing no preservatives, coloring, or other artificial enhancements or ripening agents. Modest portion sizes also are very important, as too much food makes us bloat, leading to an inflammatory cascade.
Controlling our diet and food intake can have massive effects on our mood and behavior. Ensuring we have a well-optimized digestive tract can make us feel even better and more serene. At Pollack Wellness Institute, we use a combination of powerful but natural therapies to help the body heal from the inside out. We use enzymes; nutraceuticals; acupuncture and other Chinese medicine therapies; detoxification and cleansing regimens; and a variety of other safe and natural techniques to allow the body and mind to relax.
Source: Dr. David Pollack, of Pollack Wellness Institute (66 Commack Rd., Ste. 204, Commack). For more information, call 631-462-0801 or visit PollackWellness.com.