What You Eat Makes You Who You Are (Smart!)

I was about three years old when I enjoyed tending our backyard with her.  I had been a marvel to her, since she was a little girl, earning her keep as an agricultural worker in the Ukraine, it what was then known as Russia.

She told me that it was a miracle every time, how a seed had everything in it needed only a little soil and some water and some sunshine and it became a whole plant with a flower or fruit or whatever.  It was a miracle every time. Perhaps it was the first warning of the doctor I was to become.  I told her that I had been a little Estelle seed.  I needed some water, and maybe some sunshine, and lots of good food, like the special treats she made for me, like my “pampichkes” the teency garlic breads she made for me.  And the eggs and the chicken.

My Bobie, my little Jewish grandmother, was also my first anatomy teacher, who guided me in opening a chicken to find the brain. Of course nutrition is important — more than anyone else seems to want to believe.

Ever since I found myself knee deep in psychiatric drug development, and asked if other compounds that had not been anointed as “drugs” could do the same thing, I have never looked back.

First there was research with the multivitamin and micronutrient compound that did as well or better than anything I had seen given to a bipolar. I have seen starving patients, several subject to creative food eccentricities.  I am the one who sees patients as human beings, loving the richness and eccentricities of their beings.

I was the spoiled overfed child whose parents told her she had to clean her plate because children were starving in Europe. Lots of dietary research has happened. I cannot forgive my well-meaning colleagues, who let their discipline slide into pseudoscience when they missed this.

While other folks realized what was going on. All the diet folks and nutrition folks and well meaning folks.  They said nothing when people in other countries started realizing there were other ways to eat. In 2011, the news started coming from the U.K, that a high fat, low carb (HFLC) diet (also known as what it only sometimes really is,) “ketogenic,” could help with some “common mental illnesses,” like anxiety, depression, and … bipolar illness.

The folks in the Washington Post, even though reporting an incredible-sounding results of a gluten-free diet, seem incredulous.  Especially the guy from University of Kentucky.  He comes back with the old researcher’s defense, you can show things happen at the same time but you can’t show one caused the other.

Gluten is only one of the “poisons” in wheat, according to many. So I found this. Occurrence of depression and anxiety seem to be less when the diet quality is improved. No processed foods.  Nutrient-rich stuff. I have been “radicalized.”

Most of the research I wanted to do when I was a professor type could never get done, mostly because they fell in between the cracks between specialties, and would have required collaboration and endorsement among people who have never met. I believe in the efficacy in bipolar illness, anxiety, and depression, of a vitamin and micronutrient compound marketed under the name EMPowerPlus that I have used in research and practice. Much has been said about molecules and receptors in the gut mirroring those in the brain. I am plowing through the internet reviewing research, wondering if the absorption of micronutrients as a function of those lovely little bacteria in the gut is not a great deal of what is going wrong when people are mentally ill. I have always loved treatments with positive side effects, like being better nourished. Putting together the puzzle pieces, this sure looks like something that could fit the data. This is a heck of a way to become a gastroenterologist.

I have never really liked the term “alternative medicine.”  There are only two kinds of medicine — medicine that works and medicine that does not.

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