Botanical Roots

I’ve been learning about the effects of nutrition on our wellbeing in the last month, or so. Mind you, I’ve been working with a nutritionist for well over six months, but I’m finally beginning to connect the dots. I am realizing the importance of how what we eat can affect a person, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I also want to do whatever I can to extend my life and prevent diseases.

One of the things I’ve learned is about the how vital good gut health is. Healthy gut microbiome has been noted not only in how it can contribute to better digestion, but it can also lead to better mental health, immune function, and longevity

There are foods that can promote gut health such as that are whole grains, leafy greens, lean protein, low-fructose fruits, avocado and other foods that are high in fiber. Also, foods which contain probiotics (such as yogurt, tempeh, kefir, and fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, and kombucha). 

Conversely, there are foods that are damaging to gut health: artificial sweeteners, alcoholic beverages, fried foods, red meat, processed foods (including bacon, sausage, ham, canned vegetables, cakes, cookies, processed lunch meats, and soft drinks). 

Personally, one of the things I’ve struggled with in the course of my lifetime is sugar. According to the American Gastronoical Society, Sugar overconsumption is linked to a rise in the incidence of noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. Both hyperglycemia and excessive sugar intake disrupt the intestinal barrier, thus increasing gut permeability and causing profound gut microbiota dysbiosis (damage to the microbiome), which results in a disturbance in mucosal immunity (affecting the intestines) that enhances infection susceptibility. A high sugar diet can have harmful effects on health, such as increasing the risk of chronic diseases, weight gain, and tooth decay.It can also result in chronic inflammation, where the body’s immune system activates, resulting in damage to healthy cells. Inflammation resulting from lifestyle factors, such as obesity smoking, and a sedentary existence can contribute to a range of diseases. These include heart disease, diabetes, rheumotoid arthritis, and Alzheimer’s.

For many people who live with substance use addictions, sugar was one of the first things they became addicted to. And how couldn’t we be. Sugar, and other things like high fructose corn syrup are in so many food products. It’s so hard to get away from. And even for those who enter substance use recovery, sugar can become a substitution.

There are some other great resources to learn about these topics, including Dr. Mark Hyman, who has written several books and has a podcast that delves into all kinds of topics that focus on improving one’s overall physical and mental wellbeing. 

The final thing I’ll share is advice I received from my nutritionist who said that any changes one makes should be gradual and sustainable. It’s okay to have a treat every once in a while, just consider not making it a regular thing. And it’s never too late to make a change as well as cost-effective ways to do so. Dr, Hyman shares a lot of great information that is well worth checking out.

So, in the words of Michael Rose from the classic reggae group, Black Uhuru:

“It’s the botanical roots

It’s the botanical roots

  Don’t do mechanical food

   Don’t eat mеchanical fruits”

Published by Mental Health Verses

I'm a mental health advocate, educator, and TEDx speaker. I also am a featured columnist for BP magazine, I have lived with bipolar disorder since 1981 and I'm in long-term recovery from addiction. I host the program, Mental Health Verses on the SUNY Buffalo State radio station, WBNY 91.3 FM

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