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The Relationship between Nutrition and Brain/Mental Health

By Renee Chillcott, LMHC

The Relationship between  Nutrition and Brain/Mental HealthYOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
We’ve all heard this saying before…but what would you say if I told you, “What you eat affects how you feel”? The fuel we give our body is the same fuel we give our brains. So it’s not a surprise that if you eat overly processed foods or too many sugars, you have an increased tendency towards anxiety, depression, attention/focus problems and many more. A child’s brain, for instance, cannot focus on school work or testing if it’s overcome with processing and breaking down food loaded with chemicals.

So, what diet is the best to follow?
The word diet has become synonymous with weight loss. South Beach Diet, Weight Watcher’s Diet, Atkin’s Diet, Paleo Diet, Clean Eating Diet, Keto Diet, are just a few of the generalized “diet” plans marketed to the public. “If you follow this plan, you will lose weight and be healthy”. I wonder, how do they know this? How do the writers of diet books know how my body is metabolizing food? If I don’t easily know, how in the world can they? A diet should be referred to as “the kinds of food that a person habitually eats”. And a healthy diet should take the person, their body and brain into consideration. We address this in our office through Nutritional Counseling.

How do I know if what
I eat is affecting my mood?
To figure that out, let’s look at the connection between being overweight and/or obese on mental health. The National Institute of Health states: the following are health risks of being overweight or obese…

Coronary Heart Disease
High Blood Pressure
Stroke
Type 2 Diabetes
Abnormal Blood Fats
Metabolic Syndrome
Cancer
Osteoarthritis
Sleep Apnea
OHS
Gallstones
And, according to the American Psychological Association obesity can cause:

Depression
Anxiety
Eating disorders
Stress

Medscape lists obesity/over weight is comorbid with:

Schizophrenia
ADHD
Major Depressive Disorder/Suicide
Abuse/Trauma

I’m not overweight or obese, or in need of a “diet” so I guess that means I’m mentally healthy?
Incorrect. How much you weigh DOES NOT always indicate how HEALTHY you are and most certainly does not indicate how mentally healthy you are. What is being overlooked is the connection between what we eat, how well we process it in our body and what that means to our brain and mental health.

Why does fast food make me cranky!
According to Harvard Health Publication “The brain has a direct effect on the stomach. For example, the very thought of eating can release the stomach’s juices before food gets there. This connection goes both ways. A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut. Therefore, a person’s stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression. That’s because the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) system are intimately connected — so intimately that they should be viewed as one system.”

How often do you go to the Psychiatrist or Psychologist with anxiety or depression and they ask you what you are eating? Do they ask you to complete a food journal or test your nutrition through bloodwork or DNA analysis (Hair Analysis)? Do you have toxic metals in your system contributing to anxiety, depression, or hyperactivity? Do you have slow metabolism causing insomnia? Or do you have inflammation causing depression or irritability? Unfortunately, more often than not, our nutritional states are not being evaluated by our physicians or therapists.

What if I eat a fairly healthy diet but still have issues with anxiety or depression?
Malabsorption, slow metabolism, toxic metals, yeast, auto-immune disease, and inflammation are just a few of the conditions we see that exacerbate or cause mental health difficulties. And these can occur from eating healthy foods such as broccoli or kale. Everyone’s body is working at a unique level and what may be beneficial or healthy for one person, can cause stomach upset and anxiety for another. At The Brain and Wellness Center, we offer services that measure the mineral content in your hair. With this information, a world of metabolic events can be interpreted. Not only can your nutritional status be viewed but we can also learn much about how efficiently your body is working. We can detect toxic metals, mineral and element imbalances, metabolism rates and absorption issues, as well as profiles including but not limited to hypoglycemia and candidiasis.

Don’t forget your Brain Training.
Neurofeedback works to regulate your Central Nervous System and the Autonomic Nervous System. These systems control information to hormone centers of the brain like the pituitary gland, as well as balancing the brain and “un-sticking” the “fight or flight” response that controls our CNS and ANS. This not only affects our metabolism and endocrine functioning but also causing emotional problems such as panic attacks and anxiety. Neurofeedback teaches the brain to balance neurons and to self-regulate or become “more flexible” in adjusting to stressful situations. Through this self-regulation, symptoms of anxiety, depression, ADHD, ect. will reduce or be eliminated.

What types of conditions does neurofeedback help?
Symptoms of these conditions, among others, can improve through neurofeedback training:
Anxiety
Sleep disorders
Depression
ADD/ADHD
Sensory processing disorder
Bipolar disorder
Seizure disorders
Auditory/visual processing
Chronic pain/Fibromyalgia
Migraines/headaches
Traumatic brain injuries
Stroke
Cognitive decline
Peak performance
Oppositional defiant disorder
Rages/mood swings
Attention/focus/concentration
Reactive attachment disorder
Autism/Asperger’s
Learning disabilities
Obsessive compulsive disorder

How do I get started?
Getting started is easy, just give us a call. The Brain and Wellness Center staff will answer all of your questions, and help you get scheduled. If you are wondering what services are best for you? We can help determine that at the time of the intake, in a telephone consultation, or you can schedule a face to face consultation and see our facility. Call, email or message us today! Brain and Wellness Center, 7301 W. Palmetto Park Rd., Suite 102A, Boca Raton, FL 33433. (561) 206-2706,
e-mail us at info@bocabraincenter.com, or text us at (561) 206-2706 or visit our website at www.BocaBrainCenter.com.

Renee Chillcott, LMHC
Renee Chillcott is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor that has been practicing Neurofeedback training since 2005. Renee holds a BA degree from The University of Central Florida and a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. She is a Licensed Mental HealthCounselor and is the owner/operator of The Brain and Wellness Center, located in Boca Raton. At The Brain and Wellness Center, adults, teens, children and families enjoy a variety of services from multiple providers. Neurofeedback, Brain Mapping, Acupuncture, Nutritional Counseling, Learning Programs, and counseling are among a few of the services offered.

Brain and Wellness Center
7301 W. Palmetto Park Rd.,
Suite 102A, Boca Raton, FL 33433.
(561) 206-2706
www.BocaBrainCenter.com.

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