Nutritional Psychiatry: Your Brain on Food

“People don’t make the connection between how they eat and how they feel emotionally through the brain. They don’t realize there is a connection to food and the brain and emotional well-being.”

Dr. Uma Naidoo is a board certified psychiatrist, professional chef, and nutrition specialist. She is the director of Nutritional and Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and also on faculty at Harvard Medical School.

In this fascinating episode, we discuss her exciting new book, This Is Your Brain On Food, which I highly recommend. Listen to the entire episode and subscribe wherever you get podcasts or listen here.

Key topics of our conversation include:

  • img_0728a.wDr. Naidoo’s journey as a psychiatrist and professional chef
  • How what we eat affects our brain
  • The origin of the gut/brain connection
  • The rise of mental health concerns
  • Food to avoid for mental well-being
  • Inflammatory foods
  • Orthorexia and food obsession
  • How to add more diversity in your diet
  • The impact of caffeine and alcohol on mental health
  • So much more!

Learn more about Dr. Naidoo here.
Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @drumanaidoo

Find her book on Amazon or your favorite bookstore. This book is so helpful and needs to be part of your mental health library!

Why a Deep Breathing Practice Impacts Your Mental Health

Are you breathing? Like, for real?

I don’t remember a lot from my Latin class in college, but I remember this one phrase: “Dum spiro, spero.” It means, “While I breathe, I hope.” This quote has been heavy on my mind in light of everything going on today.

There is so much confusion and uncertainty causing mental distress and pain. It seems as if everyone is divided, and we are required to take extreme stances for every issue. I swear, if I wrote up a post about why I love having a dog, the cat people would come after me and attack my character. Totally kidding, but do you get what I’m saying? Have you felt the same way recently? It’s like everyone is on edge and forcing each other to pick sides… but when it’s the “wrong side” – you’re cancelled.

It’s exhausting. I find myself tense and edgy as a result, quick to react instead of thoughtfully respond. It keeps me in a triggered state. It keeps me STRESSED.

Chronic stress, or being in a constant state of fight or flight, can have negative effects on our immune system, digestive function, blood sugar, blood pressure, reproductive organs, decision-making ability, empathy, and so much more!

However, a regular practice of breathwork (deep intentional breathing) has been proven, time and time again, to take our body out of chronic “fight or flight” and straight into “rest and digest” mode. When we are only taking short, shallow breathes through the mouth, we perpetuate that stressed state. I’ve recently found that wearing a mask for a long time disrupts my breathing. I start breathing through my mouth more and I begin to feel a little panicked. I know that’s no bueno for my overall health.

If you could do JUST ONE THING for your health today, can you promise me you will take a few deep breaths?  As you may know, I’m a big fan of the simple 4-7-8 approach. Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold for 7, and out through your mouth for 8. Repeat two to three times. There are excellent apps to help get you started in a regular breathing practice as well, from Headspace to Insight Timer, to faith-based apps like One Minute Pause and Abide.

For more on the importance of deep breathing and how to incoporate it into your daily life, check out my video below!

My Top 5 Mood-Boosting Foods

I take eating for my mental health seriously. I don’t prescribe to a specific diet or style of eating, but there are numerous studies out there showing that food IS mood. For those of us who fight a mood disorder of any kind, the way we eat can impact brain health.

Because our gut microbiome produces necessary neurotransmitters like dopamine and GABA, plus 90% of our mood neurotransmitter serotonin, what we digest in our gut matters. What we feed our gut impacts what our brain receives.

Not all things will be digested equally by all people. Every BODY is unique, just like every brain is unique. But generally speaking, the foods I list here can be a wonderful addition to any body and brain!

Here are 5 of my favorite mood-boosters that I always try to add to my day:

Continue reading “My Top 5 Mood-Boosting Foods”

3 Things Moms and Kids Need Every Day

With everything going on in the world, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. I recently sat down with my friend, fellow health coach, Melissa McGaughey, and we discussed how to simplify our daily needs into just THREE things we are focusing on for our continued health.

But we didn’t just stop with us and our needs. We expanded the conversation to include the top three things that our kids need every day. You can listen to the entire episode here.

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Key topics include:

  • Our favorite easy ways to include more whole foods into our daily diet
  • Why sunshine is the best way to “charge your battery”
  • The types of exercise we’re loving right now
  • Sleep hygiene and why it’s time to find some blue light blocking glasses
  • The importance of meditation and intentional breathing
  • Mindset and gratitude and the impact it makes on our whole body health

No matter where you are in your health journey, this episode will help inspire you to keep going and incorporate tiny habits to make a big impact.

For more on Melissa, head here.

What Do We Currently Know About Covid?

All we hear from the news media is wash your hands, wear a mask, social distance. Is that really a long term solution for supporting your immune system?

Dr. Chad Edwards is a former army surgeon and currently works as an Emergency Physician. He is the founder and director of Revolution Health and Wellness Clinic in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Here, he pays special attention to sports medicine and health and wellness as a preventive strategy to optimize health, minimize injury risk, and decrease disease. Viewing his patients through a holistic approach helps identify subtleties in their function that are beginning to show signs of dysregulation.

This interview is a very balanced and informative take on the current pandemic, what we currently know, and what we can do to support our immune function.

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Key topics include:

  • His experience with Covid patients
  • What the current numbers of deaths and infections tell us, according to CDC data
  • The data on wearing masks
  • The issue of asymptomatic carriers
  • Common sense precautions to take
  • Practical steps to support immune health via gut health and supplementation
  • The magic of vitamin c and nitric oxide (and why you want to avoid mouthwash and proton pump inhibitors)
  • The importance of glutathione, n acetyl cysteine and nitric oxide
  • Should we run out to get the Covid vaccine?

For CDC data mentioned in the episode, click here.

For more information on Dr. Edwards and his work, click here.

Understanding the Mind/Body Connection on a Deeper Level

Matt Erb is a physiotherapist, senior faculty member with The Center for Mind Body Medicine, instructor at The Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine, and the Founder of Embody Your Mind, which specializes in high quality writing, teaching, and consulting in integrative and mind-body medicine topics.

In this episode we discuss the powerful mind/body connection and why we need to be listening to how our bodies handle our stressors.

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Key Topics:
– How he uses acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
– The principles of ACT
– Survival biology and the aversion response to pain or unpleasant sensations
– The importance of improving our relationship to things
– Biobehavioral patterns of seeking care and comfort and regulating our physiological state
– Understanding emotional eating
– How ACT can help us in our day to day? Who is this useful for?
– Mechanics of emotional eating, autonomic nervous system development
– Mind-body practices we all could incorporate right now

Continue reading “Understanding the Mind/Body Connection on a Deeper Level”

Normalizing Mental Health Care with #SameHere

What do you do when your mental health is suffering and nothing you try helps? Are there options beyond the traditional treatment plans? Where can you find support?

#SameHere is an organization founded by Eric Kussin after he experienced 2 and a half years of suffering from a mental health crisis that briefly interrupted his career as a sports executive.

In this episode, you’ll learn Eric’s story in detail, and you’ll also hear from psychiatrist Dr. Andrew Pleener, who is the leader of the Same Here Psych Alliance and advocates for multiple healing modalities when it comes to psychiatry.

Listen here or listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts!

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Key Topics:

  • Eric’s story and how he got to the root of his issues after digging through his trauma
  • How mental health is a continuum and the problem with using phrases like “stop the stigma”
  • The non-medication healing modalities that Same Here brings awareness to
  • The STARR exercises that improve mental fitness, as the “gym for the brain”
  • The importance of creating community support and awareness for mental health
  • Why you can’t use the same tool over and over to improve mental health – you need more!
  • Mental health treatment shouldn’t be a one size fits all plan.
  • The work Same Here is doing with schools and businesses
  • How you can get involved

To learn more, go to https://samehereglobal.org

Follow on Twitter: @samehere_global

Follow on Instagram: @samehere_global

Easy Baked Cod

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Sometimes I play a game with myself to see how many veggies I can get into one dish. It’s a perfect game to play with this delicious and easy baked cod recipe. I got the original recipe from a friend, tweaked it a bit for my family’s tastes, and the result is melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness!

For more family-friendly recipes that kids actually like, check out the free recipe ebook I put together with integrative pediatrician Dr. Alina Olteanu!

Click here to get instant access!

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbsp grass fed butter (room temperature)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp finely chopped basil
  • 16 oz. cod (four 4 oz filets)
  • 2 lemons

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Make a paste of the fats, spices, herbs, and about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice.
  3. Coat each piece of fish with the butter/herb mixture.
  4. Top with remaining sliced lemon.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until fish is flaky and done. Serve with more lemon juice, if desired!

Serve with roasted vegetables or a salad! Be sure to spoon the melted seasonings and butter all over your plate! I added a touch of lemon-parsley quinoa and it was delicious.

Adjust the recipe according to how much cod you have or how many family members. With fish, I typically err on the side of more seasoning, but do what your tastebuds desire!

Stop Fearing Fat!

Have you been told to stay away from egg yolks? Are you trying a low fat diet to improve your cholesterol? Is cholesterol a good indicator of health or a risk factor for disease?

We go there in this episode!

“Cholesterol is so important that your body will manufacture it if you don’t eat enough of it.” – Steve Welch

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Steve is a NESTA certified Fitness Nutrition Coach and former publisher of the world renowned medical journal CHEST. His background in medical publishing provides him with insights into assessing medical and nutrition research, which he uses to educate others to improve their own health and fitness.

He is coauthor of the new book “The Ketogenic Key,” which is available in stores now.

In this episode we cover:

– Why we fear fat

– The history of low fat diets and why the data is skewed

– Why our bodies need fat to function

– The cholesterol conversation

– Carbohydrates, cholesterol, and inflammation

– How cutting extreme calories can backfire

– Individualizing the approach for YOU

This is such a fascinating interview that I hope you enjoy and learn from as much as I did!

Learn more about Steve at http://www.ketosteve.net or on Twitter at @ketosteve.

Feast 2 Fast: A Groundbreaking Nutrition Program Teaching YOU Metabolic Flexibility

Get ready! I have a BRAND NEW nutritional program starting August 17 called Feast 2 Fast. It was developed by Chelsea Blackbird (aka “The Christian Nutritionist”). You may remember Chelsea from a past podcast episode called “Busting Common Health and Diet Myths.” img_0079-1

This program helps people reach metabolic flexibility while also gaining freedom and flexibility in food choices. It truly is a place where “real food meets real life.”

img_0080You know me. You know I don’t promote diet plans. But I do promote supporting health – body, mind, and spirit. This group tackles all three! Registration for this 4 week program starts on August 3. You can learn more and sign up by clicking here.

img_0081If you love food, hate diets, and want to learn how to support your health goals in a balanced way, this program is for you. This program aims to develop metabolic flexibility and overall health while also supporting mental health and your relationship with food through daily encouragement.

The program includes:

  • An online participant portal to access all content
  • Over 100 recipes that are easy and delicious
  • A supportive community on Facebook
  • Access to ME an my support and encouragement whenever you need it
  • Short instructional videos on optimizing nutrition for OPTIMAL health
  • Daily spiritual encouragement and reminders to nourish your soul

img_9936The cost of the program is $179, and I assure you, it is WELL worth it. This program checks all the boxes I look for when I want to really get to the root of food and mood!

Targeted nutritional support can be a catalyst for whole body health. Through this program, you will learn how to become empowered with your nutritional choices and how to individualize your nutrition for your lifestyle and your health goals.

Oh – and did I mention the side effects of better sleep, clear skin, decreased cravings, and super-charging your body into fat-burning mode?

I can’t wait to get started with you on this journey! We are going to learn so much together. Sign up here.