FOOD & NUTRITION - IT'S INFLUENCE ON OUR EMOTIONAL AND MENTAL WELL-BEING
I wrote this article a few years back, however I thought I'd get it up on the blog as it's a great little article that touches on how and why food and nutrition effects mental and emotional well being. For those following the 7 'Ways to Wellness' series, it has some great info that will help to motivate you and also explains some of the challenges we face mentally and emotionally when we bring our attention to our body and start to become mindful of what we are consuming. I have added a few little remarks here and there and a link to some Pure Soul Wellness recipes, but mostly it's one of my originals. An 'oldie but a goodie'.
It’s alarming to me how many people managing mental health issues and seeking the services of professionals, report that no-one has ever looked at their diet or nutrition and the role it plays on emotional & mental well being. So why should we be looking at diet and it's effect on emotional and mental health? Let me try to explain...
A couple of years ago I met a spiritual healer who needed a ride from Dunsborough to Perth. I had just finished a yoga retreat and as luck would have it, he asked me for a ride. We were chatting about the body & nutrition and I asked him, why is nutrition so important in relation to personal & spiritual growth, and why was I still struggling emotionally when nutritionally I was cleaning up my diet and eating really well? He explained it to me like this...
'Our nervous system carries information and energy through our body. Simply put it is our body’s ability to communicate amongst its parts. (I like to think of it as fibre optics, and the light is the information & energy). Our gut has what is called an 'Enteric Nervous System' and is often referred to as our second brain because of its extensive nature and degree of autonomy. Many of our experiences are stored in this nervous system. When we eat a western diet packet full of additives, preservatives, chemicals, colours, sugars & GM foods, we put our 'gut' (nervous systems and stored experiences) to sleep (think food coma). When we begin to clean up our diet, our gut begins to ‘wake up’ and our brain is literally flooded with all our emotional experiences- hence we become emotional and struggle for a time. Sometimes we battle on, other times we 'emotionally eat' shutting all the emotions back down again.' (Fasting is an excellent way to wake up and revive our digestive system and observe our inner conflicts and emotions, but more on that another time).
At the time I wondered at the science behind this, but for me and my experience, it had some merit.
I recently attended a spiritual nutrition seminar with Hillary Han, a holistic wellness coach who's been in the business since the 60's and again the importance of good nutrition was for me, supported and re-inspired.
While my past experience and advice from a few years previous definitely helped explain my struggles at that time, the research and information I have gained since has broadened my understanding of nutrition and how it effects us physically and mentally. Many factors in relation to our diet effect us emotionally, from hormonal imbalances to an overload of toxins, food addictions, detox's, overgrowth of bad bacteria and parasites, a lack of essential vitamins & minerals and serious illness. All of these factors (and more) play havoc with our emotions! These factors can be supported and improved by improving the quality of the food we consume. By eating an organic, wholefood, nutritious diet and supplementing with good quality probiotics, vitamins and minerals, anyone can improve these imbalances and hence improve our emotional & mental well being. As more and more research, information and interest in health and wellbeing is coming to light, organic produce and quality supplements, minerals and vitamins are more readily available. As the market grows, organic produce is becoming easier to access both cost wise and availability. It's just about knowing where to look. Wellness Practitioners and health coaches can usually point you in the right direction.
One thing I can say is that experience speaks volumes! The Spiritual Healers, Holistic Wellness Practitioners & Nutritionists that I have been lucky enough to meet and learn from are some of the healthiest, happiest people I know. From my own personal experience, improving my diet and lifestyle choices, nurturing my body and healing my gut have been one of the most profound and empowering experiences I’ve had and I am still experiences new and positive benefits! Sure there are bumps along the way, but that's all part of the journey.
I read a quote recently that said, 'drinking alcohol today is borrowing happiness from tomorrow.' I have to agree, but if you think about it a little deeper, eating a western diet including additives & preservatives, GMO food and packed with sugar, consuming that today - and every day - is actually robbing us of health & happiness not just tomorrow, but every day after, and much later in life.
A good diet, good nutrition and healthier lifestyle will not make past experiences or trauma disappear, but it certainly makes managing the emotions associated easier. (It is important to note, working with a qualified Wellness Practitioner, Counsellor or Kinesiologist is advised when working through emotional conflicts or challenges that may arise when we direct our focus and attention to our body, diet and lifestyle changes).
Life just gets a little lighter!
Don't forget to check out some soul-loving, nurturing and nourishing recipes.
Jo- Pure Soul Wellness