By Hakeem Alexander
(Exercising Your Mind) In February 2012, MedScape news Today released a 12 panel slide-show titled “Brain Food: Fending off Mental and Neurologic Illness with Diet“. It begins with the question “Which foods are best for the brain?”, and continues:
“Diet is inextricably linked to conditions such as heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. However, what we consume also seems to have significant implications for the brain: Unhealthy diets may increase risk for psychiatric and neurologic conditions, such as depression and dementia, whereas healthy diets may be protective. Based primarily on MedScape News coverage, the following collection analyzes some of the more prominent investigations on nutrition and the brain into a single resource to aid in consulting clients“.
In my first Sleep Awareness Week article, I wrote
“If you suffer from any sleep issues, perhaps after consulting a qualified medical practitioner, you should perhaps look into changing your eating habits, especially where sugar is concerned, to help improve your quality of life“.
The implication is that the quality of your dietary choices will effect the quality of your sleep, and therefore, the overall quality of your life.
Reenforcing the connection that dietary quality has on sleep quality, I later came across another article from PubMed: National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, titled “Sleep-related problems in neurologic disease“.
The opening of the abstract, or brief summary of the research article states:
“There is a strong association between sleep-related problems and neurologic diseases. Neurologic diseases of the CNS can directly cause sleep problems when sleep-awake mechanisms associated with the Ascending Reticular Activating System are involved“.
For more info:
If we integrate the MedScape News data, and the data from PubMed, we can come to the conclusion that “unhealthy diets may directly cause sleep problems“.
Adding the NeuroScience CME data that “Sleep disorders may cause… diminished quality of life“, we should be able to confidently determine that healthy eating habits will improve your quality of life.
It is very obvious to me personally that this is true.
Before I became strictly disciplined as far as my diet was concerned, I experienced the negative effects of unhealthy eating choices including:
defects in carbohydrate metabolism, hypoglycemia, which led to, pre-diabetic, keto-acidosis, that promoted diminished kidney function and pain, insomnia, sleep-paralysis accompanied by sleep-apnea, irritability, lethargy, cognitive decline, depression, inability to focus and concentrate, memory impairment, paranoia and delusions, as a short list.
Although many medical professionals would recommend and prescribe pharmaceutical medications, I opted to use what I understand to be safer, natural methods.
I decided to use what may be called “orthomolecular nutrition“. The adjective orthomolecular was introduced by Dr. Linus Pauling in 1968, in the journal Science, which published his paper “Orthomolecular Psychiatry“.
Pauling expressed the idea of “the right molecules in the right concentration” with the word orthomolecular.
For more info:
My amended definition of orthomolecular is “the right molecules, in the right concentration, at the right time“.
Sometimes I add something in which I may be deficient, like protein. Other times I subtract something in which I am in excess, such as sugar.
As simple as this, I improved the quality of my sleep, and my life by improving the quality of my nutrition. The way I understand this process is that anyone can do the same.
Although the article “Sleep-related problems in neurologic disease” states:
“A basic knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the sleep-awake mechanisms provides a rational for pharmacologic intervention” it immediately thereafter states: “Nonpharmacologic treatments are also important, especially when sleep-related breathing disorders are a concern“.
This is significant because I have personally noticed that one of the primary symptoms of a poor diet on sleep, is sleep-apnea, which is difficulty breathing, or not being able to breathe during sleep.
Additionally, one of the adverse reactions of using sleeping-pills, sedative-hypnotics, barbiturates, benzodiazepines and other tranquilizers, is that they also cause breathing problems. This obviously can make the sleeping problems worse, and possibly result in death.
This is upheld by the Sleep-related problems article, as it goes on to point out that:
“In addition, as patients with neurologic diseases are often prone to the adverse effects of many medications, the specific treatment regimen for any given individual should always include good sleep hygiene practices that use cognitive behavioral therapy“.
Learning strategies that assist you with transforming maladaptive eating habits fall under the category of cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT.
According to a post on the National Alliance for Mental Illness website, “Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an empirically supported treatment that focuses on patterns of thinking that are maladaptive and the beliefs that underlie such thinking“.
For more info:
By changing the way you think about food, you might change the way you eat, thereby providing your brain with the optimum environment for good health.
When you eat correctly, you are consuming the right molecules, in the right concentration, at the right time.
Using orthomolecular, rather than, or as an adjunct to pharmacologic treatments, will improve the quality of your sleep and your life in general.