Dr. Victor Hugo Landlahr, a nutritionist, radio show host, and pioneer in nutritional awareness, popularized the phrase “You Are What You Eat” in his book with the same title, published in 1942.1 Years later, we are finally beginning to understand what this phrase really means.
Everything we put into our body has the potential to effect us. Whether it’s food, water, soda, medication, breathing in the city smog or even fumes from household cleaning products– all have the capability of altering our overall health and well-being. Of course some of these things, like healthy foods, clean air, and vitamins are good for you, but most of the other things we unknowingly consume on a daily basis, are not so good.
But what we don’t know can’t hurt us, right? Wrong. Does it make enough of a difference in our bodies to really matter? Yes, definitely.
Here is some proof.
In an article titled, “The Role of Nutrition in Mental Health,” Tieraona Low Dog, MD, discusses various diets and micronutrients that have been associated with decreased levels of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.2 One study found that a diet rich in whole foods (fruits, vegetables, fish) gave middle-aged, British individuals protection against the onset of depressive symptoms. On the other hand, another group of individuals who consumed a diet consisting mainly of processed meats, sweet desserts, fried foods, and high-fat dairy products had increased vulnerability for depressive symptoms.3
Another double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that adding an omega-3 fatty acid supplement (such as fish oil) to the diets of 30 individuals with bipolar disorder actually alleviated many of their symptoms.3 Also, eating foods high in protein has been known to increase alertness.4 Switching to a gluten-free diet helped one patient with celiac disease and schizophrenia by offering a complete resolution of both diseases (as shown on a brain scan).5
Still a skeptic? Even walking through the self-help section of your local bookstore will show more than a handful of inspiring success stories similar to the ones presented. The truth is, individuals all over the world have experienced dramatic, positive changes in their health just by altering what they eat. Many have also seen major changes in their health by adjusting the ways that they think. The human body and spirit are incredibly resilient, but if you treat it well, it will flourish. I’m not saying that you can’t enjoy that scoop of double fudge brownie ice cream after you break up with your significant other. Or that you can’t test out the pork belly sliders at that trendy new restaurant everyone is raving about. But if you treat your body right, it will treat you the same in return. And the next time you feel like something is a little off, pay attention and listen to what your body is trying to tell you. It may be saying more than you think!