In Dr. Mark Hyman’s book, The UltraMind Solution, he gives practical ways to optimize brain health, ward off depression, dementia, ADHD, and any other brain related issues you can think of.
Luckily genes have almost nothing to do with it. A small percentage of people are genetically predisposed to these issues, but genes can be turned on, or off. They can be expressed, or not expressed. All of that is controlled by lifestyle choices.
The book is full of suggestions that I believe are highly intuitive. It’s no secret that pharmaceuticals are overly prescribed in this country, most people don’t seem to like the idea of taking them, and yet most people are using at least one prescribed drug; over 80% of Americans. The system is designed to alleviate symptoms, not fix the root cause of ailments. I love when Dr. Hyman says our brains/bodies don’t have a prozac depletion, so why give it prozac? I realize the idea is to regulate serotonin, but our bodies can do that on it’s own when we are truly healthy, and giving it what it needs. The root cause of anxiety, depression etc, is a nutrient depletion. It is also usually from leaky gut, that causes the depletion, and in many people it’s eating gluten that causes leaky gut. So, depression and anxiety is often caused by eating foods we’re allergic too, not getting enough of the foods we need, having high levels of heavy metals, and toxic exposures. Hormones are also a huge issue, but if everything I just mentioned is addressed, hormones will usually correct themselves.
The success rates of antidepressants is only 50% in only 50% of the symptoms. And for those who do find a benefit, that benefit dissipates over time.
I found that to be true in my own experience. In my 20s I had depression, anxiety, etc. I was pretty much just a mess. I tried antidepressants. They worked for a period of time, and then they didn’t, and I felt worse when I went off of them. At that point many people start adding more pharmaceuticals, changing doses, changing brands etc. Luckily for me, that’s when I really started to change things around with my nutrition. The funny thing is, I seemed like an extremely healthy person. I worked out at 6:00 am everyday before work. I had a smoothie for breakfast, packed my lunch, etc. but gluten, dairy, and mold were the problems. I didn’t even discover the mold issue until two years ago, but the other nutritional issues transformed me completely. Anyone who knew me then, and now recognize that I’m an entirely different person. The Adkins Diet is not good for you (for reasons I’ll elaborate on in another post), but I felt and looked good when I did it. I now understand that’s because I wasn’t eating gluten when I was doing Adkins. I also wasn’t drinking alcohol. It turns out I’m allergic to most kinds of alcohol, and I was particularly allergic to all the kinds I was drinking at the time. Luckily I’m ok with Tequila, but one drink every couple months is plenty for me. No matter what kind of alcohol may work for you, it’s not great for your liver, and our livers are working hard enough these days as it is.
Long story short, I spend a decent part of my life feeling physically and mentally like I was run over by a truck. After cutting out gluten, dairy, and alcohol, my life changed drastically. I haven’t felt anxious in over a decade, and that’s a decade where I had four children. A time when one could be stressed out, and experience hormonal changes, but I’ve felt the best I’ve ever felt. I have tons of energy, and the idea of being depressed seems so odd to me now.
That’s what worked for me, and everyone’s bodies are different so it’s really important to get to know yours. Adding things in, taking things out, and seeing how you feel, and researching why. I thought carbs were ruining my life, but it was actually gluten. It’s all trial and error. But, with the amount of degenerative diseases we are seeing steadily increasing, it’s worth taking the time to figure it out. As it turns out, mold was a huge issue for me as well, and adding binders into my life has drastically increased my mental and physical health. There are a lot of references to mold in Dr. Hyman’s book. It effects a massive amount of people, and significantly increases your odds of mental issues, and dementia.
The bottom line, and the good news is, we are in control of our bodies, our brains, and the aging process. There’s no magic pill. It’s all about eating the right foods, not eating the wrong foods, exercise, detoxing, practicing gratitude, and telling your body to be healthy, whether through prayer, meditation, or mantras. The mind body connection is real, powerful, and a wonderful thing when you take control over it.