Is “You Are What You Eat” Really True?

18 Apr

healthy food

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that  26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. This doesn’t take into account the number of people with substance use disorders. Even though SUDs are in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, they are not listed on the NIH website as mental disorders. At the same time, people the world around are eating more processed and genetically-altered foods, laden with preservatives, pesticides and unnecessary additives like sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.

Allow me to relate some personal experience. When my daughter was 14 years old, she began exhibiting a number of symptoms: intolerable irritability, inability to cope with stress, quick to anger, easily frustrated, extreme mood swings, poor grades, memory problems, bouts of crying and sadness and irregular menstrual cycles. At first I attributed her symptoms to hormones. Some school officials were murmuring “Attention-deficit” and “Hyperactivity Disorder,” and recommended medicating my child. I refused, but when the problems continued to worsen I sought medical attention. Fortunately, I had an awesome osteopathic family doctor. He referred us to a nutritionist where several tests were performed using blood and spit that was collected.

The diagnosis: she suffered from what they termed  “leaky gut syndrome.” They explained in her gut, an imbalance of the normal bacteria caused the mucus lining of the small intestine to develop tiny holes, and toxins from food were leaking into her bloodstream, creating the havoc of symptoms I described above. They prescribed a strict diet with no sugar, gluten or dairy products for several months, and placed her on probiotic supplements to help even out the bacteria and yeast in her system. One yeast that was particularly out of balance was Candida. Within a few days of removing the sugar, gluten and dairy from her menu, she displayed a remarkable transformation: my happy-go-lucky daughter returned, and all of her symptoms abated.

In my daughter’s case, I am fortunate that her physician didn’t prescribe psychotropic medication. There are many problems that people suffer from today which may be caused by something in their diet. With all the processed food that is the staple of American eating habits, and the proliferation of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), it may be that sensitivities to these kinds of “food” are causing many of the symptoms and disorders that we are seeing.

What mother of a toddler can’t vouch for the observable behavioral differences after their offspring indulge in sugar-laden treats? Salesmen can confirm that people are more amenable to making a purchase on a full stomach. Alcohol and drug treatment centers urge clients to beware of being too hungry, angry, lonely or tired. Yet these same treatment centers dispense nutritionally-deficit coffee and donuts to their clients. Maybe that’s one way to keep patients coming back for more treatment.

I am not so obtuse as to claim all mental illness is caused by poor diets, or too much junk food. I am suggesting that we take a closer look into the link between people’s behaviors and what they are eating. Some of the symptoms that may mask as mental illness like fatigue, mood swings, nervousness, anger issues, migraines and eating disorders may in fact be caused by food allergies or sensitivities.

The old saying “we are what we eat” contains truth. Our bodies are designed to extract nutrients from our food. But processed food is laden with preservatives and derivatives of food in  forms that are toxic to sensitive people. Are not many alcoholics and addicts  sensitive people?

And what about the long-term effects of GMOs on our bodies? There are processes that take place at the molecular level which are being disturbed by the introduction of genetically-altered foods. The processed food industry opposes measures attempting to require labeling of their products. If they are not worried about the consequences of these foods, why not let the public know what they are consuming?

At least one recent study has shown that depression may be a neuropsychiatric manifestation of a chronic inflammation in the intestinal tract.  And Julia Ross, a clinical psychologist and author of The Mood Cure states that modern dieting can bring about a condition where neurotransmitters (serotonin, catecholamines, GABA and endorphins) are not being produced by the brain because of the absence of certain amino acids in the diet.  When these neurotransmitters are low, Ross says, some people become irritable or quick to anger, even becoming violent, which Ross believes leads to many incidents of domestic violence. Other people exhibit signs of depression, becoming apathetic or having no energy, suffering shakiness, teariness and in general an increased inability to deal with stress. Still others are overwhelmed by anxiety.

My advice? Check with a physician or a nutritionist and examine what we are eating. There are dozens of website devoted to this subject. and The World’s Healthiest Foods ( are two that are recommended.



One Response to “Is “You Are What You Eat” Really True?”

  1. Kristen June 16, 2016 at 5:26 pm #

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