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Nutrition and Body-Mind Connection

Tuesday 14 th January 2014

Body and mind are finely interconnected. Emotions and daily problems affect health, and illnesses alter your mood. How is this communication between the body and the mind produced? Is it possible that you can improve your physical and psychological health simply through nutrition? 

This post is dedicated to my clients and friends that have contributed to make me aware of the body-mind connection.

Nutrition affects the body and mind

It is generally accepted that nutrition impacts on your physical health. Conventional medicine relates cholesterol with arteriosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases, salt with hypertension, sugar with diabetes, but it isn’t so clear that nutrition could be linked to other illnesses, such as arthritis, asthma or fibromyalgia. And still, now, it’s not very well known that many neurological and psychiatric diseases are linked with nutrition: autism, epilepsy, schizophrenia, attention deficit, hyperactivity, depression, insomnia, etc. But that's how it is.

I will tell you a personal experience to support this. My daughter was diagnosed coeliac disease when she was eight years old, after having lived all of those years of continuous otitis, pharyngitis, flu, gastroenteritis, intense fatigue and other illnesses. But it wasn't only her body that was ill, she felt mentally weaker, with school problems, hypersensitivity, social isolation and depression that worsened increasingly more. As she started her gluten-free diet, not only did her physiological state improve, but also her psychological state, until after two years she had practically recovered completely and became a girl, who, behind her timid character, lived a normal social and a brilliant school life.

Lately, it has been discovered that not only coeliac people fall sick when eating gluten; non-coeliac people are also affected - in a different scale - from intolerance to sensitivity. Dr. Willem explains in his book dedicated to food intolerances, that a delayed immune reaction against some food produce inflammation in the body, and this is the cause of many illnesses: arthritis, migraines, back pain, fibromyalgia, asthma, allergy, dermatitis, hormonal problems, overweight, etc.

As well as intolerances in an immune level, other intolerances exist in an enzymatic level, which means, a deficiency in digesting nutrients, such as lactose and sucrose, for example. These intolerances lead to an excessive development of undesirable bacteria in the gut flora (yeasts, fungi, clostridium, parasites, etc) and subsequent toxin production. These can also affect the body if they aren’t correctly eliminated. And some of these are neurotoxic, which means, they affect, also, the functionality of the brain. Dr. Campbell-McBride attributes to these neurotoxins the causes of numerous neurological diseases, and she has achieved to recover numerous people with psychological illnesses with her GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome). 

The unbalance of gut flora also entails a deficient absorption of nutrients, of vitamins and minerals, those which are necessary for good physical health and the correct functionality of our brain. One of the principal origin of hyperactivity and depression are the excess or lack of any neurotransmitter: dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, which cause is mainly the deficit of vitamin B5, B6, B9, and B12.

Other problems related with food intolerances, especially of gluten in cereals and of casein in milk, are the production of the opioid peptides. These peptides, derived from the unsuccessful digestion of gluten and casein in some people, act in a similar way to opium, by binding to the receptors of the neurotransmitters and disturbing the correct transmission. Karl Reichelt and other scientific have found a link between opioid peptides and some neurological diseases such as schizophrenia, autism or epilepsy.

Other products, such as coffee, chocolate, and alcohol, modify also the production of neurotransmitters. Other food increases the production of endorphins, the organic molecules of wellbeing, like sugar, salt, fat and spices.

Sugar produces repetitive cycles of hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, which leads to the cyclic sensations of energy and good mood / fatigue and bad mood.

Some nutritionists, such as Joshua Rosenthal in his book about Integrative Nutrition, say that all nutrients have an impact in the mind: meat makes us become stronger but more aggressive if it is taken in excess and carbohydrates have a calmer effect and, if they are also taken in excess, cause drowsiness. Mr. Rosenthal even thinks that a person adopts the character and physique of the most abundant food they eat, and like this, for example, they end up looking like a cow if they eat too many hamburgers.

The problem exists when a dependency to a certain nutrient arises, be it gluten, milk, meat, chocolate, or anything else, since we are not capable of controlling the intake of this, and each time we need a higher quantity to obtain the same calming effect, stimulant, etc., because every food has an impact to the neurotransmitters and hormones and the brain becomes less and less sensitive to them. Then the food becomes a drug, it is taken in excess and its effect towards the body and mind is negative. Curiously, those nutrients of which major dependence exist are those which food intolerance also exists.

Ending dependencies of whatever kind, and avoiding foods that you are intolerant to, can be challenging. You can start by searching for another source of substances for well-being that aren’t as harmful. The practice of a sport, laughing, listening to melodic music, pleasant smells, making love, meditation, and praying are activities that have been scientifically proven to release endorphins. But other activities that the person considers pleasurable and that aren’t harmful for their health must produce the same effect. A psychotherapist can always help overcome these dependencies. Alternatives are almost always available. For example, carob instead of chocolate, chicory instead of coffee, honey instead of sugar, vegetal milks instead of cow milk, etc.

Emotions affect the body

Emotions have a physiological effect. There’s the popular notion that bad news can cause a heart attack, we turn red face when we are embarrassed and we cry when we are sad.

Dr. Mimi Guarneri, M.D., FACC says in her book “The heart speaks” that scientific studies have shown that “Factors such as depression, anxiety, a sense of self-efficacy, and the quality of spousal support were better predictors of a patient’s degree of physical impairment than the severity of coronary artery disease”.  Also that “The parent-child relationship in childhood proved to be a major predictor of major illness, including heart disease and cancer, in midlife”.  She adds that “They (the patients) had taught me that coronary disease is physical, spiritual and emotional”. And she explains that “Depression and anxiety disorders can increase blood pressure, affect heart rhythm, alter blood clotting, and lead to elevated insulin and cholesterol levels. Depression may also result in chronically elevated levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can elevate blood pressure, triglycerides, and bad cholesterol”:

Dr. Candance B. Pert, Ph.D.  describes in her book “Molecules of Emotion” how she made a big discovery: the chemical substances that transport the emotions, called peptides. These peptides aren’t produced only in the brain, but all the body systems can produce them. Even more, “every one of the systems of the (body) network is set up to communicate with one another, via peptides and peptide receptors”. So “we can no longer think of the emotions as having less validity than physical substance, but instead must see them as cellular signals that are involved in the process of translating information into physical reality, literally transforming mind into matter. Emotions are at the nexus between matter and mind”.

But Dr. Guarneri and Dr. Pert don’t agree in the role of negative emotions. While the first doctor says that these emotions are the cause of diseases, Dr. Pert says that “all emotions are healthy. The so-called negative emotions are as healthy as peace, courage and joy. To repress these emotions and not let them flow freely is to set up a dis-integrity in the system. The stress this creates, which takes the form of blockages and insufficient flow of peptide signals to maintain the function at the cellular level, is what sets up the weakened conditions that can lead to disease”.  So she recommends to go to a group therapy, talk with a friend or a familiar, write a letter, paint, etc. to express your feelings. Also breathing in yoga or meditation and exercising help unblocking peptide flowing. “Body can and must be healed through the mind, and the mind can and must be healed through the body”.

The Germanic New Medicine, developed by Dr. Ryke Geerd Hamer M.D., is based on that each different type of emotional conflict is associated with a certain kind of cancer. Like this for example, prostate cancer in men or of ovaries in women is caused by a strong problem or misfortune related with children. Dr. Hamer finally established firmly, logically and empirically how biological conflict-shock results in a cold cancerous or necrotic phase and how, if the conflict is resolved, the cancerous or necrotic process is reversed to repair the damage and return the individual to health.

Dr. Masaru Emoto has shown in his study about water crystals, that thoughts can impact in matter, so negative vibrations (sound, mind) pollute water, which makes 60-75% of the human body, while good energy heals. Therefore, even if it’s not possible to avoid bad emotions, we can work to reduce them, or to let them out of the body by their expression.

Many therapies and psychotherapies recommend avoiding problems, furthering yourself from people with negative energy. With this, they are encouraging individualism, prioritising the oneself’s well-being, don’t matter the hurt it might cause the people around them. Misfortunes will always happen to everybody because it’s beyond our control, so these people will never be happy. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to avoid misfortunes and that we shouldn’t look for happiness, but to certain limits. The solution is not avoiding negativity that comes from outside at all cost, but to inner strength yourself to face problems and keeping a “zen”attitude against storms. Appreciating and giving thanks for what we have and being physically and mentally strong, with a positive attitude, a healthy diet and the practice of a spiritual activity, in order to confront problems that life throws at us, are the keys to happiness and health.

A positive attitude towards life, a solid belief in any religion, joy and good news can help cure a disease. Dr. Guarneri says that “some research has shown that optimism lowers the risk of heart disease.” And recognises that “being positive isn’t simple or easy,” and adds that “one way to cultivate it is by practicing gratitude”. Also “forgiveness seems to reduce the bitterness, anger, hatred and fear”.  She says that it is scientifically proven the “alteration in the activity of the brain along with blood-flow changes during meditation and prayer. This could be the link between religion and health benefits such as lower blood pressure, lower heart rate, decreased anxiety, and a enhanced sense of well-being”. But it has not been scientifically explained yet the fact that, “Researches found that those who received prayer (distant healing) were clinically better than those who did not”. She quotes Dr. Dossey's conclusion: “Medical science not only has not had the last word, it has hardly had the first word on how the world works, especially when the mind ins involved”.

They are countless, the cures of people conventional medicine cannot explain, the spontaneous remission of cancers in fervent believers or in people who have totally changed their life. Thus there has been an explosion in recent years of a large number of therapies to improve health based on the mood or energy: laughter therapy, music therapy, zoo therapy, hugging trees, etc. Most of these therapies work because release endorphines. Other therapies such as reiki, hands healing, acupuncture and acupressure help unlocking the flow of peptides.

Emotions affect nutrition

Who hadn’t lost their appetite when they fell in love, received bad news, or were nervous?
The emotional state also changes by the way we feed ourselves. Very often food is used as compensation for some unpleasant situation in our lives, or simply for a deficit of some other need or nutrition in the personal life, both physically and emotionally: love, sexuality, culture, exercise, sleep, personal fulfilment, job, etc.

For example, coffee keeps us awake when we are sleepy because caffeine is an antagonist of adenosine, the main neurotransmitter of sleep. It is said that chocolate is a substitute for sex as the same hormone; oxytocin is released in both cases. Alcohol is used for disinhibiting yourself as it increases serotonin. The sugar gives a sense of wellbeing and of temporary energy before an adversity or weakness releasing endorphins, etc. To stop abuse of these harmful products, you can find out what is the emotional deprivation that attempts to be compensated with food.

Also, the food that we prepare is impregnated with the energy of the person that prepares it and with the methods used in its cultivation and farming, recollection and in the posterior preparation. An unhappy cook will infuse a much different energy in his food in comparison to a joyful cook. A tomato that has been cultivated in fertile and quiet land, without pesticides and picked by hand will have a much different energy than a tomato that has grown in land of intense cultivation and picked by a tractor, and even worst if it has been genetically modified. Joshua Rosenthal believes that “food prepared at home by a loving person has a different nutritional effect. It contains the vitamin L, for love. The energy of love is passed into the food and nourishes you in ways that go beyond micronutrients.” This is why foods made by grandma are so good.

Even the ambience where we eat is important. Mr. Rosenthal says that “during eating the body is in an open and receiving mode, and we take in more than just the nutrients in our meal. We also absorb what is happening in the environment around us. When eating with other people, we absorb their moods and their energy. We need to rest and digest, the body likes to be relaxed, inactive and in a peaceful environment when assimilating food.”


Peptides are molecules that embody the emotions in the physical body. These peptides should flow freely through the body. But when the peptides are altered, or blocked, illness occurs. This blockage may procede, as Dr. Pert explains, an inhibition of the expression of emotions, but as Dr. Reichelt also found, in some persons, peptides originating from improper digestion of gluten and casein, disrupt the proper communication of these substances. Chocolate, coffee, alcohol and sugar also disrupt the production of certain peptides and neurotransmitters, and, of course, drugs and antipsychotic medications as well.

Some people believe that illnesses are caused by conflicts or emotional shock; others believe they are merely physical. What is certain is that in any case, a healthy and adequate nutrition strengthens the person physically and psychologically; it allows the affectation of psychological problems and physical attacks (toxics, virus, bacterias, etc) to be reduced. In the same way, a good mental and spiritual nutrition will give the person a stronger physical and psychological defense.

To conclude, some words from M. Rosenthal: “The more you live in balance, respecting nature and yourself, the more likely you will be in the right place at the right time, all the time. People will call you lucky and you may think it’s simply coincidence, but the truth is that you are aligning yourself with the natural order of everything”.

Many thanks to my daughter Judit for making the Spanish to English translation.


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