Food can act as medicine, have a neutral effect, or it can be a poison to the body and mind.
When food acts as poison, it creates inflammation, which alters the body's balance of nutrients, hormones, and neurotransmitters. This directly affects your body's ability to manage and heal from stress or illness.
While some body-mind effects are due to naturally occurring nutrient content in food, much is due to hidden additives.
Below, are four common culprits. If you're experiencing symptoms that interfere with your quality of living, talk with your natural health practitioner about the role these or other foods may play in your health.
Foods that Impact Body-Mind Wellbeing
The most socially accepted psychoactive substance in the world, caffeine is used to boost alertness, enhance performance, and even treat apnea in premature infants. Caffeine is frequently added to other foods, so be mindful of total consumption. Too much caffeine (500-600 mg daily) interferes with sleep quality, which affects energy, concentration, and memory. Caffeine can aggravate other health conditions, cause digestive disturbances, and worsen menstrual symptoms and anxiety.
Those brightly colored, processed and packaged foods come with a rainbow of health risks. Listed on ingredient labels as "Blue 2," or "Citrus Red," food dye has been documented to contain cancer-causing agents (e.g., benzidine). They're also associated with allergic reactions and hyperactivity in children. Dyes are sometimes used to enhance skin color of fruits and veggies. A number of dyes have been banned from use in foods and cosmetics around the world.
Increased sugar consumption (as much as 30% over the last three decades for American adults), is linked to decreased intake of essential nutrients and associated with obesity, diabetes, inflammatory disease, joint pain and even schizophrenia. Too much dietary sugar can result in blood sugar fluctuations, causing mood swings, anxiety, irritability, headaches, and increased depression. Sugars that can act as poison include High Fructose Corn Syrup, table sugar, artificial and "natural" sweeteners.
Monosodium glutamate is a flavor enhancer common in packaged and prepared foods. Although the FDA considers MSG "generally safe," some individuals experience a complex of physical and mental symptoms after eating MSG-containing foods. Symptoms vary but can include headache, sweating, nausea, chest pain, heart palpitations, and over-stimulation of the central nervous system which can lead to alterations in sleep, mood, and immunity.
Becoming aware of your food choices, why you make them, and how you feel mentally and physically is an important first step in understanding your personal body-mind food connection. Your practitioner may ask you to keep a mind-body food journal to provide a clear picture of how your food choices affect your health.
Prasad, C. "Food, mood and health: a neurobiological outlook." Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research (1998). 31(12): 1517-1527.
Rippe, J., et al. "Controversy about Sugar Consumption: State of the Science." Eur J Nutr (2016). doi:10.1007/s00394-016-1227-8. Accessed on 10 July 2016: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00394-016-1227-8
The Obesity Society. Increase in U.S Sugar Consumption. Accessed on 10 July 2016: http://www.obesity.org/news/press-releases/us-adult
Centers for Disease Control: National Center for Health Statistics: Nutrient Intake by age: http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/diet.htm
Bray, George A. "Energy and Fructose From Beverages Sweetened With Sugar or High-Fructose Corn Syrup Pose a Health Risk for Some People." Advances in Nutrition 4.2 (2013): 220-225. PMC. Web. 10 July 2016: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3649102/
Rippe, J.M. & Angelopoulos, T.J., "Sucrose, High-Fructose Corn Syrup, and Fructose, Their Metabolism and Potential Health Effects: What Do We Really Know?" Adv Nutr, (March 2013) 4: 236-245. doi: 10.3945/ an.112.002824. Accessed on 10 July 2016: http://advances.nutrition.org/content/4/2/236.long
Sharma, A. et al. "Artificial Sweeteners as a Sugar Substitute: Are They Really Safe?" Indian Journal of Pharmacology (2016) 48.3: 237-240. PMC. Web. 10 July 2016: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4899993/
Somer, E. Food & Mood: The Complete Guide to Eating Well and Feeling Your Best, Second Edition (1999) Holt Books. http://elizabethsomerblog.com
"Food and Mood." British Dietetic Association Food Fact Sheet. (2014). Accessed on July 8, 2016: https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/foodmood.pdf
Kobylewski, S. & Jacobsen, M.F. "Food Dyes: A Rainbow of Risks." Center for Science in the Public Interest. (2010). Accessed 10 July 2016: https://cspinet.org/new/pdf/food-dyes-rainbow-of-risks.pdf
Benon, D. & Donohoe, R.T., "The effects of nutrients on mood." Public Heath Nutrition (1999) 2(3A): 403-9.
MayoClinic Online. "Caffeine: How Much is Too Much?" Accessed 10 July 2016: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20045678?reDate=10072016
Singh, Minati. "Mood, Food, and Obesity." Frontiers in Psychology 5 (2014): 925. PMC. Web. 4 July 2016. Accessed 5 July 2016: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4150387/
ReadingHour.in. "The Food-Mood Connection." Posted Apr 2011. Accessed 5 July 2016. http://readinghour.in/content.php?ctype_id=NjM
Johns Hopkins Center for Innovative Medicine. "Food, Body, Mind:
Gastroenterology meets Neuroscience, meets Microbiology, meets Immunology, meets Psychiatry." Accessed on 9 July 2016: http://www.hopkinscim.org/breakthrough/winter-2014/food-body-mind/
Challem, J., The Food-Mood Solution: All-Natural Ways to Banish Anxiety, Depression, Anger, Stress, Overeating, and Alcohol and Drug Problems (2007) Boston: John Wiley & Sons. http://jackchallem.com/pages/foodmood/foodmood.html
Challem, J. "The Food-Mood Connection." Posted 2006 at Experience Life; Accessed on 9 July 2016: https://experiencelife.com/article/the-food-mood-connection/
Mayo Clinic Online. "What is MSG? Is it Bad for You?" Accessed on 10 July 2016: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/monosodium-glutamate/faq-20058196
Olakunle, J.O., et al., "Evidence of alterations in Brain Structure and Antioxidant Status following 'low-dose' Monosodium Glutamate Ingestion." Pathophysiology (2016, in press) DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pathophys.2016.05.001
Accessed 10 July 2016: http://www.pathophysiologyjournal.com/article/S0928-4680(16)30022-0/pdf
NaturalNews.com "MSG and aspartame are the two leading causes of central nervous system damage in the United States" accesed on 25 July 2016. http://www.naturalnews.com/039199_central_nervous_system_damage_MSG.html