How Your Biochemistry Can Affect How You Think

Article written by Donna Martini

It is a known fact that we eat certain foods to compensate for an imbalanced body. It has long been my contention that if we were to eat healthy foods, we would eat less for the simple reason that our bodies would be satisfied once they were nourished properly. Because most of our food is not nutrient rich, we tend to overeat and look for choices like simple sugars that make us feel temporarily satisfied and perhaps stabilize our moods. That means we need to keep eating even when we are not hungry, which puts more unwanted chemicals into our already stressed bodies. It is a vicious cycle that is hard to break. The good news is, we can determine what we are deficient in through blood work, and once we are able to increase what we need in the way of nutrients, we can take out what we don’t need. Of course, we would have to break bad habits, but we can become balanced once again, making the future easier to deal with. The initial issue is in believing what we put in our mouths is actually making us feel bad in the first place.


In his article entitled, “The Connection Between Mood and Food”, Dr. Steven Schechter, N.D. writes, “Serotonin is a key to numerous brain functions. A decreased level of this neurotransmitter has been associated with depression, insomnia, obsessive/compulsive disorders as well as eating disorders leading to obesity, or the reverse: anorexia/bulimia. Researchers have observed a link between eating behavior and mood with neurotransmitters in the brain. Scientists observed obese people eating high carbohydrate foods to make themselves feel better. They traced a route from carbohydrates to serotonin: the carbohydrates (starches) convert to sugar and stimulate the pancreas to release insulin. This raises brain levels of 5-HTP, converting it to serotonin, making you feel happy.”

So we understand how food temporarily makes us feel good, what about how it drops us on our cabooses soon after? Medical professionals will readily admit the insulin-sugar-carbohydrate-mood connection. We have all felt it too. It is the rise and fall of blood sugar that can dictate our good or bad mood. Unfortunately, so much is blamed on the state food puts our body in physically, instead of relating how the food itself is affecting how we think and feel. Take for example a U.S. study that was done recently on 4,641 women ages 40 to 65 who were enrolled in a health plan. The research collected information on their height, weight, dietary and exercise habits, and body image. The women also completed a questionnaire used to measure depression symptoms. The study showed that women with clinical depression were more than twice as likely to be obese (a body mass index of 30 or more), and obese women were more than twice as likely to be depressed. The providers of the study stated, "When people gain weight, they're more likely to become depressed, and when they get depressed, they have more trouble losing weight."

This study doesn’t surprise me, but the reactions of the experts do. Why it is that scientist and the medical profession believe that only the emotional connection to being fat causes depression? Why don’t they relate the obvious increased quantity of food that may be contributing to the depression? In other words, obese people eat more so therefore are exposed to more ingredients, sugars, carbohydrates, and chemicals. Couldn’t that be the culprit? As a matter of fact, maybe their initial imbalance caused the need to eat more food. They ate more and as a result became obese, but the actual food chemistry increased their already existing depression. Being heavy makes everything worse, both emotionally and physically, but it may not have been the initial cause of depression.


Another study cited in Reuters Health suggested that overweight children tend to miss more days of school than their normal-weight peers. “In a study of more than 1,000 students attending Philadelphia elementary schools, researchers found that overweight children missed an average of 2 extra days out of the school year compared with normal-weight students. The medical journal Obesity stated these findings were consistent regardless of the students' age, race or particular school, which suggests that excess weight itself may contribute to missed school days. The writers of the study cited emotional factors were involved along with poor body image generated by peer criticism. I am sure poor body image can make a child want to stay home from school, but how much is attributed to the food they are eating? I know that the sugar from a chocolate bar can make me or my daughter cry for a considerable amount of time within a day of eating it. Is the extra fat on their body making them feel bad or is it the actual food creating negative thought patterns and low self-esteem? What kind of moods are being generated by the extra food coming in on a daily, or even hourly basis? How is the extra food contributing to their inability to deal with those mood swings which can further contribute to a downward spiral? How many kids are taught to deal with emotional upheaval? Adults are deficient in this category, imagine then how insufficient a kid’s coping skills are. And my final question: How many teen suicides are due to food and the negative bio-chemical response it has in their bodies?


All the evidence is not in from the medical industry, but long time conclusions have been met by many households across America who are in tune with what their families are consuming. Parents with children who have been diagnosed with various disorders such as ADHD, dyslexia, compulsive disorders, and most especially autism, are finding the results of a clean diet to be outstanding, sometimes alleviating many or all symptoms. Depression is no different. It is up to us, however, to challenge our perception of our bodies and what they are telling us. Depression is not an entity all on its own. It is an indicator of imbalance, as well as compulsive thoughts, negative reactions, and anxiety and panic attacks. Even if your life is not on a downward spiral, food can cause subtle issues that hurt your self esteem, relationships and coping skills. Change your diet and you not only have the potential to change your appearance; you can change your entire life.