Updated: Oct 16, 2020
We all like to think that we are in control of our thoughts and ideas without any real undue influence. In a way, we are but maybe not the way we think. We can look at who influenced us as we grew up, the media we consume and the people we surround ourselves with as all having an impact on how we shape our thoughts and desires. All true but there is something even more powerful at work and it has an even greater impact on how we react to the influences mentioned above. I am talking about the food we eat and the powerful impact it has on the gut bacteria in the lining of our stomach.
"What are you talking about Finn?" "I think you have been drinking too much of that green juice again." Yes, maybe I have. I won't argue with that. What I am talking about is the way the chemistry, which is the food, drink and anything else you consume has a direct impact on your mood, anxiety, concentration, stress levels and so on. Ten years ago I would have nodded and agreed with you if you told me this because it makes logical sense. I would have still eaten what I wanted when I wanted without any thought to the impact the food, drink or alcohol had on my mind and attitude. Lots of things make sense to us but don't seem to take a foot hold in our life because we don't feel an direct connection to it. Its often a slow adaptation that doesn't feel that bad until the effects become overwhelmingly obvious. In the past eight years, I have been a human guinea pig for testing diets of all sorts to see how it impacts my performance. Some felt too restrictive while others felt like they were too relaxed. I have done vegan, carnivore, paleo, keto, south beach, intermittent fasting and so on. I have eaten to gain mass and done water depletion to look lean for photos. The one key thing that they all had in common was a clear impact on my energy levels and clarity of mind, whether it was good or bad. Your age, gender, health history, and body type all play a role in how the food you eat impacts your mental attitude and so the way I eat matches the outcome I am most happy with today. I have learned from first hand experience how my daily attitude has been shaped by choosing to limit and at times remove all processed food from my diet.
According to an article from Psychology Today, there are over 100 million nerve cells in the lining of the gut. The article goes on to indicate that there is bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain.
"Chemicals implicated in depression and happiness such as serotonin are also found in the gut; 90 percent of serotonin is manufactured in the digestive tract and not the brain. Many antidepressants work by increasing serotonin. Scientists have found that gut bacteria produce many other neurotransmitters such as dopamine, norepinephrine, acetylcholine, and GABA, which are critical for mood, anxiety, concentration, reward, and motivation. The gut microbiome can cause changes in how our brains react." ...Marwa Azab, Ph.D
The science that keeps emerging continues to support the fact that you are what you eat. The anecdotes of people who have dramatically changed their lives with a better understanding of food and food supplementation choices surface more and more every day.
When I look back on how my eating habits have evolved over the past few years I can see a direct correlation with how I perceived the opportunities in my life. It wasn't until I became mindful of the daily impact it had on my mood and self-esteem that I learned how to take control of my goals and ambition levels. Your nutrition does far more than offer energy. It can be used as a tool to fuel your desires and expectations of who you are capable of becoming. The trick is often knowing what will work best for you at any given time in your life. If you live in a world where there is an abundance of choice it becomes even more difficult to make an informed choice. On a day to day level I don't spend much of my time anymore worried about what to eat or when to eat it. It's become pretty intuitive now because I know how to make food work for me instead of against me.
I am not trying to downplay the mitigating factors in our lives that influence our decisions. I just know that food plays a much bigger part than we tend to believe or want to give it credit for. Whether its doing well in your day or feeling like nothing is going your way, I would suggest you reflect on what role your nutrition plays in the outcome.
I would love to hear your feedback on how your diet is helping or hurting you. Message me directly or leave your story in the comments below.