By now, I think most people would agree that what we eat has a direct impact on our health.
Do most people understand it has a direct impact on our mental health, as well?
Let’s take a look at anxiety.
About 1/4 of adolescents and 1/3 of adults are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
How did we get so anxious?
Well, my social anxiety became almost crippling when I went on Accutane in middle school.
I needed therapy.
I self-medicated with pot and dopamine addiction.
Things like video games, sex and reckless behavior, to be specific.
It was so difficult to calm down.
Sleep was fleeting, and hardly satisfying.
Well, it turns out, the body has many overlapping and competing systems.
Sometimes, they seem to be doing something “wrong” or “harmful,” when in reality, they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing to protect us.
In my case, I was acutely poisoned with retinoids, as if I was an alcoholic.
So the body increases thyroid function and overstimulates the adrenals.
Eventually, they get burned out.
Hypothyroid and adrenal fatigue.
The thyroid sped up because it is responsible for regulating the detoxification pathway, and hypothyroid conditions slow it down.
When the system gets burned out from over use, it shuts itself down.
Same thing with the adrenals.
If you eat something to which you’re allergic, or something poisonous, your body releases cortisol, epinephrine/norepinephrine and adrenaline.
Your heart races, you got hot and sweaty, and you experience anxiety as you struggle to survive a crisis.
That’s why they give you an EpiPen with epinephrine if you are at risk of anaphylaxis.
It’s a very good thing we have this safety mechanism, but the problem is when there’s something that’s constantly triggering this response, even at low levels.
Well, as it turns out, the retinoids, commonly mistakenly called vitamin A, also stimulate similar affects, including “cortisol synthesis and secretion in human adrenals.”
According to Psychology Today, cortisol is “public enemy no.1.”
And guess what has to be functioning properly to help you reduce your cortisol levels?
That’s right, your dehydrogenase system.
So, if we are consistently eating foods that are high in retinoids like beta-carotene, at has similar affects as being an alcoholic.
In one study, they used the form of vitamin A called retinoic acid to give mice egg and peanut allergies.
In another paper, they established that retinoic acid acted as an “adjuvant,” like those used in vaccines, to induce gluten intolerance by teaching the immune system that gluten was essentially an infection to attack.
Our bodies have to make retinoic acid out of any form of vitamin A we consume in order to eliminate it from our system.
That’s what our dehydrogenase system does.
Just like alcohol becomes acetic acid.
If this system is overwhelmed, even momentarily, by getting drunk or eating sweet potatoes, we get a stress response.
The stress response helps speed up the dehydrogenase system.
But if the stress response is always on, you have anxiety.
So we don’t have to be worrying about something stressful to have a stress response causing anxiety.
It can be completely biochemical.
From our diet.
And it’s resulting from overwhelming our dehydrogenase system.
And many people report using GABA to improve their anxiety.
Well, we need dehydrogenase to make GABA, too.
I could go on, but you probably get the point.
Another time, I will talk more about dopamine and serotonin, and how they all fit in here, too.
Most important, is that you understand here how if we are unwittingly dosing ourselves with too much of these retinoids, like alcohol, we are eating ourselves into anxiety.
Often, it’s the “healthiest” diets that have even more of the foods that contribute to this problem.
That’s what I realized when I started figuring this all out, and most of my clients tell me the same thing when they get started.
Want to talk about what my clients and I are doing to stop this seemingly never ending cycle of anxiety?
I will answer all of your questions, with practical advice that you can apply immediately to your life.