Mind Over Platter: How Beliefs About Food Affect Digestion

Have you noticed a strange phenomenon?

The more extreme the alternative health world becomes about food (meat bad! No, plants bad! Grains bad! No, sugar bad! Leafy greens bad! Dairy bad!) the more people seem to genuinely have trouble digesting those foods?

Why is it that the people trying hardest to be healthy, seem to be struggling more and more with digestive issues?

Because our minds are powerful, that’s why! Consider this:

👉 Parkinson’s patients receiving sham surgery improved more than those receiving the actual treatment (but thought it was just placebo) [PMID: 15066900]. Even medical staff who were not aware the surgery was a sham reported better outcomes in those patients.

👉 People who are (falsely) told they had more sleep than they really did perform better on language and arithmetic tests [PMID: 24417326] than those who believe they had less sleep.

👉 In one study, those who perceived themselves to be less active than others (whether they actually were or not) were 71% more likely to die in the follow-up period, than those who perceived themselves to be more active than others (whether they actually were or not) [PMID: 28726475].

👉 Two groups of participants were told to smell a certain odour. One group of participants were told the odour boosts creativity, and the other group were given no information about the smell. Guess which group subsequently performed better on creativity tests? [PMID: 28892513]

Do we really think our beliefs and anxieties about food doesn’t affect the workings of our digestive system?

In addition, our brain does not differentiate between a real threat or a perceived threat. The body reacts the same to fearful thoughts, as it does to fearful situations – by directing blood away from digestive organs.

If you’re feeling anxious about the food you eat…it’s no wonder it seems to sit in your belly for hours. No wonder it bloats you. And so on and so forth…

Not medical advice. Not denying that true food intolerances and allergies exist (in fact, the root causes of these are the subject of an upcoming ebook I’m putting together). But food for thought, nonetheless.

Zinc is Anti-Depressant

Data from two Australian studies on older adults (55+ yrs) showed those with the highest dietary zinc intake had a 30-50% lower risk of depression [PMID: 25012438]

🎯 A meta-analysis of 17 different studies found that people diagnosed with depression have lower serum levels of zinc, than healthy controls [PMID: 23806573].

🎯 Zinc has been shown to be an effective addition to anti-depressant therapy [PMID: 14730113]. Patients had significantly lower depression scores after 6 & 12 weeks of zinc supplementation compared to placebo.

🎯 Thirty young women were put into two groups. One group received a daily multivitamin, while the other group received multivitamin + zinc. After 10 weeks, those in the zinc group had significantly lower scores on both anger-hostility, and depression ratings [PMID: 20087376].

These ☝️ are just a handful of the dozens of studies showing the benefits of zinc for mental health. It’s theorised that zinc exerts anti-depressant effects due to its role in regulating the glutamatergic system.

Although I preach often (you know I do!) about zinc, please be aware that zinc supplementation can have its own side-effects down the track, namely copper depletion.

Hence, I choose food first. Highest known source of zinc is oysters and other shellfish, followed (but a long way behind) by red meat, eggs…Im not a fan of the taste + texture of oysters so I take in capsule form. I use Saturee brand which are sourced from Tasmanian waters. (Affiliate link. Use code ‘RADICAL’ for 10% off!)

*Not medical advice. Please do not take yourself off anti-depressant drugs unless under the guidance and advice of a competent healthcare provider. Those drugs are no joke!

But on the other hand, be encouraged that nourishing yourself can and will be beneficial for your mind ❤️

How Late-Night Scrolling Undermines Your Health & Hormones

We know melatonin as our ‘sleep hormone’ but did you know that all light,*especially blue light* (such as LED lights and device screens) after sunset delays and decreases melatonin production?

Melatonin helps to regulate our circadian rhythm, which is so much more than just our sleep/wake cycle. Our reproductive hormones, metabolism and even gene expression are also influenced by the circadian rhythm.

Even our hair growth, for goodness sake!! 😳 (True story)

Melatonin and cortisol have an inverse relationship. When one is high, the other is low, and vice versa. Rising melatonin in the evening (due to our eyes sensing fading light) prepares us for sleep, while rising cortisol in the early morning, prepares us to wake up and face the day.

A circadian rhythm that’s out of whack results in rising cortisol in the evening (a ‘second wind’ at 10pm), and rising melatonin in the morning (sluggish and don’t want to get out bed). Definitely not what we want.

Disruption to circadian rhythm not only feels like perpetual jet-lag, it also contributes to insulin resistance, obesity,, inflammation, and infertility.

Hence, why nightshift workers are at increased risk of diabetes, infertility, heart disease, metabolic disorders, and even cancer.

Binging on Netflix at night starting to look not so tempting, after all 🥴

We all know coffee disrupts circadian rhythm, but researchers have discovered that blue light exposure in the evening delays circadian rhythms 2x more than a double-expresso, three hours before bed …

Be mindful that melatonin supplements provide 10-100x higher levels than our bodies would naturally produce, so instead, consider lifestyle & environmental changes, such as dim lights (red tone) in the evening, and limiting screen time before bed. Make bedroom as dark as possible. Even dim light, such as LED alarm display beside bed, can affect melatonin levels.

Natural melatonin is both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory hormone that helps our body rest and repair while we sleep. We want (need!) this hormone!

Check out Block Blue Light products if you want to minimise blue light, but just ain’t willing to put your phone down in the evening 😜 (Free shipping worldwide, on orders over $120 AUD. Use code ‘radical’ for 10% off at checkout.)

The #1 Reason Why Menopause Is A Nightmare for 85% of Western Women

In all the time I spent living in the Pacific Islands, in contact with perimenopausal women, I never once noticed anyone suffering symptoms, or heard women discussing it.

My own mother and her sisters were going through the change of life, and on my visits home, I’d often hear them talking about the hot flushes, or joking how they want to lock themselves into a refrigerator.

Eventually, my curiosity got the better of me, and I began asking around the Islander women. They didn’t know of anyone who had suffered symptoms leading up to menopause (officially complete after one year without a period).

And that makes sense, if you understand the process of menopause. During perimenopause, our ovaries gradually cease production of sex hormones, and our adrenal glands take up responsibility. This process begins to happen, gradually, from around 35 – 40yrs old.

As you can imagine, a stressed and depleted pair of adrenals, such as most Western women have, due to chronic stress and over-busy lifestyle, is going to struggle to keep up. Hence why the wheels begin to fall off for so many women, in their late 30’s – early 40’s, as their ovaries begin to wind back production of estrogen and progesterone, and a shortfall becomes evident, because their adrenals are already depleted from years of stress. If not corrected, menopause becomes a nightmare.

85% of Western women report experiencing menopausal symptoms, hot flushes, night sweats, aches and pains, forgetfulness and mood swings.

Of course we cannot discount the added stress of going through menopause in a society that glorifies youthfulness. Many older women say they feel ‘invisible’ and unnoticed. Contrast to more traditional societies where growing older is not resisted, but embraced. Older women become more noticed, more heard, more respected.

Ladies, if we want to go into our ‘golden’ years, vibrant and well, we MUST get a handle on stress. The best diet in the world can not compensate for the damage and destruction caused by chronic stress. We simply were not designed to live lives of constant frenetic pace, over-commitment and juggling a thousand things at once.

We are beings, not doings.

Consider this permission to start carving out time to rest 🙂