Let me say it plainly – food is the strongest drug you will ever take.
You might be surprised to hear that. But think about how many times each day you eat. Think about the amount of food on your plate at any one of those meals. Then multiply that times the number of meals you eat in a day (plus snacks). Now compare that total daily volume of food to even the largest volume of pills you have ever taken in one day.
See what I mean? The food ‘wins’ by sheer force of volume. Even the most concentrated and potent pharmaceutical drug can only have a partial effect on your body compared to the overall effect of what you eat.
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
The good side to this is that the right foods for your Metabolic TypeÃ‚Â®, eaten in the right proportions, have the effect of powerful medicine to help you become strong, healthy and happy.
But like any medicine, if you take the wrong one it can be bad. Sometimes very bad. A case in point is the process by which food can cause depression and weaken your immune system.
Food and Depression
When it comes to depression, one of the important food-related factors is inflammation. Here’s how it works:
When you eat certain foods your body releases inflammatory substances called cytokines. These substances create inflammation in the brain associated with depression.
The worst food offenders in this process are simple carbohydrates such as pasta, bread, pastries, sweets, ice cream, sugared drinks, and in general what we call junk foods.
Conversely, eating foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, grass-fed beef, flax oil and fish oil reduces the creation of cytokines and therefore reduces this inflammation in the brain that causes depression.
Pretty straightforward, isn’t it? Junk food -> inflammation -> depression.
Food and Your Immune System
Another aspect of cytokine production is that your body makes more when your immune system is challenged, for example when you have the flu.
And here’s a connection that most people don’t make – the more sugar and processed foods you eat, the weaker your immune system becomes.
You can see proof of this by the fact that what we call “cold and flu season” happens in late November and through the winter. This is exactly when most of us are eating ‘holiday foods.’ These are the pies, candies and cakes most of us don’t normally eat the rest of the year.
Just when we most need our immune system to be strong to deal with colder weather, our dietary choices weaken it. No wonder people get sick this time of year.
The Depression and Immune System Connection
You can see that one aspect of both depression and a weakened immune system is the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines in your body. And since the trigger for releasing these cytokines is eating processed grains and sugars, by now you have a pretty good idea of how to avoid both problems.
Obviously this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your holidays. Spending time with loved ones, enjoying some time off work and winding down from a busy year are all extremely healthy things to do.
The key is avoiding sugary and processed foods while focusing on enjoying whole, fresh and natural foods when you sit down to your holiday meals.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and predict you’ll enjoy the holidays more when you aren’t sick and depressed…
*Source: Environmental Working Group