Have you ever had to give a speech, or sing for a crowd? In the hours or minutes leading up to the big moment, were you so nervous that you felt like you could vomit or that you needed to run to the bathroom? If so, you have experienced what I call the mind-gut connection.
It’s no secret that our minds are powerful things. The evidence of the placebo effect should be enough to show us just how powerful. This phenomenon occurs when a patient is given a sugar pill and, believing it to be a healing medicine, begin to recover from their illness through simply believing that they would.
It makes sense, then, that if our minds have the power to convince our bodies to heal, they are connected in more ways than we realize. We tend to think of our bodies and our minds as completely separate, but maybe this is not the case.
When it comes to our health, our minds actually play a huge role in determining our state of wellbeing. Did you know that stress is a major leading cause of many of today’s diseases and sicknesses? You really can worry yourself sick!
It is important to address any areas of stress in your life, as well as taking the time each day to find a quiet spot to sip some tea, pray, practice yoga, or deep breathing exercises. (Even if you have to lock yourself in the bathroom for ten minutes and tune out the “Mom! Mom! Mom!” coming from the other side of the door.) Taking this time to empty your mind and recollect yourself for the rest of your day is not only good for your mental state but can also be very beneficial to your overall health and ability to fight illness as well.
Herbs that help to quiet the mind and promote our bodies ability to adapt to life’s stressful situations include; Ashwagandha, bladderwrack, lemon balm, borage, and licorice root. (You can find my absolute favorite licorice tea here. It tastes like Christmas, and since licorice root is naturally very sweet, it makes a great drink to sip when you get that sweet craving!)
Now that we know how your mind affects your health, let me talk a little bit about how your health affects your mind.
I talk a lot about the detox phase I went through when I cut all dairy out of my diet over 6 years ago. There were a lot of unpleasant and, frankly, rather disgusting side effects, but today I want to hone in on one particular side effect that I was not expecting.
I don’t mean a mild case of clumsiness, or even the classic mom-brain syndrome. I am talking, confusion, displacement, dizziness, forgetfulness, and an overall sense that I had to be losing my mind. Suddenly I could not remember ANYTHING, I was constantly walking around in this fog that I could not shake. It was bad enough that I had to take time off of work because my driving skills had deteriorated to unsafe levels, not to mention the thought of doing anyone’s hair while I could barely remember how to hold my sheers was kind of terrifying in itself.
After a week or so, the fog lifted and I found myself thinking clearer than I could ever remember in the past. I found myself doing simple math in my head and actually getting it right! (okay, big deal, right? But if you know me, that is actually a huge deal as math is my worst subject.) I became happier and more content, I was less inclined to make impulsive decisions and more deliberate about the choices I made.
See, when your body goes through a detox, all of the toxins that are hiding in the recesses of your body are released at once, making your every day symptoms a lot worse before the toxins are eliminated and you begin to feel better.
So what does all this mean?
In my own experience, and from the research I have done, the things we eat have a profound impact on our brain’s ability to function properly. When we are constantly feeding our bodies things it doesn’t recognize as food, it becomes overburdened with trying to expel the waste that it cannot process. when this happens, it affects everything from our bowels to the very blood in our veins. The build-up of toxins and waste begins to slow down our brain’s ability to process information, and even alters our thoughts, feelings, and reactions.
“You are what you eat” is not just a fun little saying. What you eat literally has the power to alter the way you act on a daily basis. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want a sugar addiction causing strain in my marriage because I’m a jerk if I don’t get my fix. If food cravings are controlling what you eat, chances are good that they are controlling a lot more than that.
ADD, ADHD, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other common disorders can all benefit greatly from a proper diet, because of this connection between mental clarity and your stomach. Before turning to a pill, take a good look at what you’re fueling your body and, consequently, your mind with. Junk foods might produce an immediate reaction of happiness and euphoria, but ultimately they fuel mood swings and brain fog.
Take back the control of your own mind by eating right, and keep your gut happy by spending time nurturing your mind!