Why I am Committed…Posted: January 19, 2012
I have collected a few mental health diagnoses over the years including, but not limited to: chronic depression, generalized anxiety, and bipolar disorder, all of which have overlapping symptoms and similar effects on my daily life. This is not a woe-is-me post. I have been successfully managing a business for ten years, building a marriage for 6 and co-raising 2 healthy children for 5, while out doing myself on extracurricular projects and events. All the while, there have always been periods of severe lowness, sadness, extreme anxiety and I’ve never done well in unfamiliar situations. In fact, I run and hide as often as possible. On the other hand, I have often found it hard to stay calm, focused and even-keeled regardless of the setting. I have been unable to control myself from going from one extreme to the other for nearly half my life. It has been exhausting, frustrating and embarrassing.
In retrospect, I ate the standard American diet for nearly 30 years. I have never been obese and only experienced weight issues after having children. I was never a particularly sick person, enjoying the standard twice yearly cold or flu, occasional then frequent headaches (which we all battle, right?) and paid minimal attention as family members discussed things like Diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis and the like. I battled my own problems in silence mostly, terrified of walking through the door to my own office most days. After researching Paleo eating and reading how a cleaner diet can soothe and/or prevent symptoms of modern disease, like those I mentioned above, PLUS the fact that it would probably help me lose the stubborn leftover baby-weight, it seemed too good to be true, but I was up for the challenge.
In my 1st month of eating Paleo, I broke out like a teenager coming into their own. In a similar fashion, my mental health seemed to go haywire about 3 months into eating clean. I was all over the place and sought the help of my therapist and medications for a short time. After recovering from this severe low and hyper-manic episode, I began to hypothesize on why this would have happened when I was living so healthy. My theory being continued detox: different parts of your system and body are refueling and repairing themselves at different lengths and so I continued on my Paleo journey, excited to see improvement – scratch that – stability in my mental health, if my hypothesis was correct and my body continued to heal itself.
Which brings me to yesterday. I read an article posted by Julianne Taylor, a Paleo nutritionist, that pulled it all together for me: Depression V. Inflammation – Chicken or Egg, which basically relates the symptoms of depression to inflammation in the body. Inflammation is caused by what you eat and how your body digests it as well as environmental factors and stress. I had never heard inflammation and depression specifically related to one another, but of course it makes sense! Inflammation causes a stir in the body and creates many of the standard ill-ness in today’s society, much of which my family is suffering from.
A similar culprit of modern disease is a leaky gut. Many people are unaware of their own gut health since we have a medication for every ailment, as well as many symptoms being silent predators, like in my case. I’ve seen over a dozen different therapists and doctors related to my mental health and no one has ever mentioned my diet, gut or referenced hereditary inflammatory disease. The gut (including the esophagus, stomach and intestines) is considered a single digestive organ with its own nervous system that functions separately from the brain. The gut has more neurons then the entire spinal cord and the brain receives more information from the gut then it provides. Did your head just explode?
I’d like to take it a step further and play chicken or egg with Inflammation V. Leaky Gut because I’ve now read articles stating you can have inflammation before the other. I’m inclined to think a porous gut is there before you can tell that it’s ‘leaking’ therefore causing inflammation, however I’ve read inflammation can cause a gut to leak toxins into the body. If any of my scientifically savvy friends would like to chime in on this train of thought through comments, I would be happy to learn more.
Do you have inflammation in your body or a leaky gut? Well, here are a list of symptoms: susceptibility to viral infections, acid reflux, acne, mood instability, arthritis, bronchitis, diabetes, chronic pain, high blood pressure, urinary tract infections; chronic fatigue, depression, asthma, allergies, headaches/migraines, joint pain, IBS, Fibromyalgia, arthritis, just to name a few of each.
To bring it full circle, both of these disorders are caused by digestive health. What is making our digestive tracts sick? You guessed it, OUR DIET, more specifically: A diet high in refined sugar and flour, processed foods, and chemical food additives. You can read the many articles I’ve linked for all the science and information you can handle, in the meantime, I will continue to eat Paleo plants and protein as often as possible and continue to cure my gut, which takes time, lots and lots of time, considering I have 30 years of damage to undo.