Is Food Affecting Your Brain?

Fascinating part 1 of a series for you today on how ‘cerebral allergy’ is behind many people’s depression and anxiety.

I absolutely agree with this, having seen it clinically so many times, so much so that the first thing I do with any ‘mood disorder’ patient is remove the common allergen of wheat, dairy and gluten. Often, that is enough to turn around years of suffering for them and it never ceases to amaze me. In fact, I think I have told you, my first ever patient after I trained was a person with severe depression who had been hospitalised many times and was at her wit’s end. Nothing like a baptism of fire, is there?!

As per my training, I said I couldn’t treat her depression as it was severe, but we agreed to put her on a healthier diet as she needed to lose a lot of weight and the worry about that wasn’t helping. I did my usual thing of giving a wheat and dairy free diet to give the gut and liver a rest and to break habits. We were both astounded at the change in her mood that came just 3 weeks later, and she never went back to it. We had uncovered a cerebral allergy – a food sensitivity that was affecting the brain and nervous system. It taught me a valuable lesson about food sensitivity not always just being about the physical and the massive impact it can have on mental health. I have never forgotten it.

Funnily enough, I was watching a programme on TV yesterday called Brain Hospital. I don’t normally watch these programmes actually – bit Busman’s holiday if you know what I mean – but I got fascinated with the cases on it. Breaks your heart with the things people have to go through. The one that fascinated me most was a woman with chronic headaches that turned into really nasty cluster headaches. Now, I have no idea if food had been checked out as an issue (causal or exacerbating), but I wondered whether that might not be an idea. The poor woman was suffering really badly and stoically – and bravely – trying to live her life. That’s not to say I am suggesting that severe brain problem might be ‘just’ food, but it did make me wonder. We do know that several types of migraine and headache are linked to histamine levels, dietary amines and certainly grains, as in my own case. Anyway, I hope they are exploring that avenue at least for her. I suffered for years with migraine and had absolutely no idea that grain, and particularly corn, was the cause.

Anyway, have a read of Dr O’s first part of his series on his blog. I hope it helps. I’ll let you know when each part comes out.

You might also want to check out my page on Stress, Anxiety and Depression and the one on Brain, Memory and Cognitive Function.


4 Replies to “Is Food Affecting Your Brain?”

  1. Oh this happens to me, and not just with anaphylaxis which gives me an almost overwhelming feeling of what they call ‘impending doom’ – ie. this is going to kill me.. that alone is hard to live with, lurking behind your shoulder. But I have other allergies which are delayed reactions, these affect my skin, AND my brain. I get so depressed. As soon as I start to recover in skin and get over the reaction, the mood iimproves. Now is that because my allergies leave with a burnt mask of a face, and I usually know I’ve taken a risk when it happens but often can’t pinpoint a specific cause. Am I just self conscious or is something else going on? I’ve blogged about this, doctors say I’m talking nonsense but I’ve experienced it myself. How much depression is caused by people eating too much bad processed food? I really wonder, yet food is NEVER discussed when someone goes to the doctor about depression. I am convinced there is a link. Great article Micki.

    1. Yes, Ruth, you are not alone in that experience. In naturopathic medicine, we were always taught that if someone had eczema that was suppressed or continued in some way, that mood problems would surface in future. It’s one of the most common patterns seen: skin to mood. I have seen it many times. Couldn’t tell you the exact mechanism, but definitely happens.

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