I just got back from an international conference on Nutrition and Psychiatry (ISNPN2017) in Bethesda, Maryland where many brain-iac scientists from across the globe (Deakin/Oxford/Harvard) presented on what they have tirelessly dedicated their time studying: The importance of the microbiome as a critical equation in who we are, how we function and the state of our overall health—the microbiome being the critters that are throughout our body in the shape of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other stuff that make up a large portion of us! What separates you from me is what’s in our gut! The microbiome defines our personhood and its taking a huge hit right now across the globe. It is losing its diversity which is instrumental to our survival on every levels.
We would never have known this if it hadn’t been delved deeply into by genomic scientists who have shown that we are walking and talking biomes that are struggling because of ill treatment. Environmental, food, psychological stressors, drugs and other assaults are randomly being tossed our way! So next time a negative thought comes through, while sitting under a florescent light in a cubicle with a computer in front of you, as you munch on fast food, please realize that this may be affecting your genetic coding which could have an impact not only on you but also on your future ancestors. This is called epigenetic–the expression of our genes, which in turns affects the way, they mutate and evolve.
The microbiome’s health and survival is tied in with our choices, but once choices are made, the biome starts to take over which can have a robotic effect on us. How neat, how scary! If we eat crap, we will feel like crap and then behave like crap, which in turn drives us to continue to make poor choices. The expression of our genes and the way they mutate is directly linked with how we are acting and behaving in real time. What we do today will have a reverberating affect on future generations. It is less about how we take care of ourselves during pregnancy and more about how our mom’s took care of their self and how we took care of our self pre-conception! We need to fortify and I am not talking about cereal here.
We have a responsibility to future generations and we aren’t doing a good job right now. Chronic illnesses, neurological (Parkinsonism, ALS, CFS) and neurodevelopmental disorders (Autism, ADHD) are on the rise to the extent that 30 years ago that which was rare has now become commonplace.
We need to get back to basics and start to look at things from a cellular level and what feeds our cells best. Let’s start as healthcare professionals using healthy eating (that has sound evidenced based studies around it), exercise, positive thinking, ascribing to natural and eco-friendly supports as first line therapies to prescribe to our patients BEFORE we reach for our rx pads. In both the primary and secondary medical settings we need to underscore the importance of lifestyle as the priority initiative not just as an aside. If at all possible let thy pill be the last rather than the first resort.
Many progressive scientists are studying the importance of fortifying the biome rather than breaking it down with therapies that in the long run are harmful and counter intuitive—for example anti-acids which disrupt the natural flora and acidity in the gut and can be correlated with a host of downstream problems in the kidneys, thyroid, bones even though in the short term they work well. Instead of starting with an anti-acid why don’t we look first at food triggers that could be causing gastro-upset or environmental/interpersonal hits that is the trigger. It might be best to examine why we need to be on anti-acids, anti-depressants, anti-anxiety agents and opiods!! Why are we in so much pain and distress??
We need to try to combat the rapid acceleration in neuro-developmental disorders by looking at harmful toxins and foods that are not benefiting us. We are evolving based on a current food chain and a (sad) environmental ecosystem that is harmful and not sustainable. We are heading in the wrong direction and have been for over 50-60 years during rapid modernization. Food is fuel and fast food/soda/candy and boxed substances aren’t ideal things to be putting into our engines.
I understand that this is a major health initiative that will take a huge paradigm shift not only for clients, but also most importantly for us as clinicians. Partnering with our patients to support lifestyle changes takes time, energy, motivational interviewing skills and patience AND we need to practice what we preach and lead by example on an individual and policy level.
If little by little we start to make optimizing health and wellness the mainstay of care and less about medical intervention when things go wrong, maybe then we will make headway not only on a small scale but also from a global perspective. I am not just speaking about the physical but also from a mental health focus. Our first brain is seen by many as the GUT. There is no mental without physical health and there is no physical without mental health–they are intricately intertwined.
This is achievable if we seriously start to move in another, better direction than the one we are headed in now. I have included an array of studies to back up what I am saying. I hope you enjoy reading this as you sit under a tree from which you have just picked a fresh piece of organic fruit from your garden as you take this in with the hum and heart beat of nature in the background and I hope our grandkids have the opportunity to do the same.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26721468 Broccoli spouts