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Re-fuel: food, your mood and your healthy brain and body

‘Food is information for the body’ Eric Ho

In the second of his five-webinar Re-set series, functional health coach (and former in-house lawyer) Eric Ho turned the spotlight onto food and its effects on our physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Throughout the hour-long Re-fuel: food, your mood and your healthy brain and body, introduced by Kelly Thompson, Partner at RPC, Eric drew on his experiences of hay fever and psoriasis and explained how, thanks largely to diet, he has reversed both conditions without drugs.

Acknowledging that food is an emotive subject, Eric set out how it is central to functional health, the approach to care that focuses on averting root causes of conditions as opposed to treating symptoms. He discussed:

  • How food is revolutionary for brain and gut health;
  • Core principles about food choices; and
  • How to apply those principles into a busy lifestyle.

Eric urges us to regard food as information for the body. What we eat tells our body what to do, such as switch off genes, break down fats, increase insulin levels and a great deal more. If we nod off during the afternoon, it’s probably as much, if not more, to do with what we’ve eaten as with how well we’ve been sleeping lately.

Few people are aware of the problems that some food choices are storing up for the future – or how others can reverse degenerative brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

The Ketogenic diet

A good example of this is the ketogenic diet. Although it’s recently become fashionable, this approach has been used in Functional Medicine therapies for many years. The central principle of the keto diet is that is uses the body’s own fats for energy instead of glucose in foods. The keto diet is generally high in fats and low in carbohydrate and has had great success in treating young people with ADHD, which in turn improves their capacity to learn.

Fire in the belly = fire in the brain

Gut health plays an enormous role in the relationship between food and mental health. Any leak in the lining in the gut wall and toxins can slip through and enter the blood stream. Once there, they can be carried to almost any organ in the body, including the brain. Brain fog, depression, anxiety, blurred vision, low mood and unexplained fatigue are often caused by inflammation in the brain brought on by metabolites that have arrived there from a leaky gut.

Such is the awareness and interest in the gut-brain axis and its effect on our mental condition that nutritional psychology – a relatively new, yet rapidly growing field – is seen as key to the treatments of mental illness.

Foundations for food

There’s no one-size-fits-all recommended diet as what will work for you depends on your personal desired state, your starting point and any conditions you want to address.

For this reason, Eric suggests creating a template that is personalised to you, your food preferences and your lifestyle.

To reduce inflammation from what you eat, Eric suggests eating anti-inflammatory, nutrient dense, whole foods. In other words, “just eat real food”.

And exclude the major sources of inflammation:

  • Anything in a box or comprising five ingredients or more (it’ll be highly processed);
  • Refined flours (found in white bread, pizza dough, pasta and many cakes);
  • Refined sugars (often found in pre-made beverages, sports drinks, pasta sauces and pastries); and
  • Industrial seed oils (sunflower oil, canola oil, sesame oil – but not olive oil or peanut oil).

The problem with processed foods is that humans were designed to eat whole, unprocessed foods, not food-like substances. While, for reasons of cost and convenience, we often eat processed foods our genetics haven’t adapted as quickly to them so these foods continue to upset the balance of our gut flora and drive our modern day chronic diseases, like obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

The Paleo template

A great way to hit the reset button on your body to lose weight, boost energy, improve sleep, reduce inflammation and reverse a wide range of chronic diseases is to try a paleo reset diet for 30 days. The paleo diet simply replicates (as closely as your supermarket or food shops allow) the diet of the Paleolithic period. It’s wide ranging but as its name suggests, eliminates anything touched by modern farming or production processes.

The idea of the 30 day paleo reset is that once the period is up, you can gradually reintroduce the foods and drinks you’ve given up – one at a time – to allow you to identify what causes flare ups or recurrences of any mental or physical conditions and create your own personalised template.

In this way, Eric has reversed his psoriasis and learned how to avoid flare ups and eliminate hay fever episodes.

Re-fueling with any physical or mental conditions you want to combat could do the same for you.

The third webinar in the Re-set series is Re-store on 5 November. Join Eric again then  for tips on getting the sleep you need for a healthy brain and body. Contact us for more information

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