You Are What You Eat: Illness and Diet

I’ve said that one of the points of starting this blog was to examine the connections between emotions and food. I chose food for a reason. It took me at least six months to get back to a fairly normal state of being after an illness that I had. During that time I found that what I ate greatly effected how I felt. Duh, right? This illness was a complication of something else that I just have to learn to live with; Epilepsy.

This is your brain on Epilepsy

Some of the warning signs of seizures are fear or panic attacks and unexplained emotional upset. These can happen hours or in some cases even days before a seizure.  For me, it’s hours and I generally end up getting very upset over nothing and calling or going to a friend with a pitiful plea of help. Other auras such as smelling funny things, headaches similar to a migraine, and stomach upset are also common. If I have a particularly large seizure afterward I am completely dazed and confused. In general I cry for no reason, I get very hot and then very cold, I cannot speak and I cannot stand to touch things with my left hand. Weird. Who wants to live like that and who would want to live with someone like that? Disorders can sometimes be just as hard on family and friends.

There is a special diet that is sometimes used to control Epilepsy called the Ketogenic Diet. It is basically a modified Atkins Diet. The recommendation is to eat almost all fats and no carbs. If you decide to treat your Epilepsy with this diet you must be under constant supervision by a doctor. There are blood tests at least every three months, food is calculated and weighted for each meal and the side effects can be dehydration, constipation,vomiting, high cholesterol level, kidney stones, behavior changes. It just didn’t seem like a step up. So I went to see my nutritionist instead.

Just say no

Turns out, there is a lot of research on nutritional deficiencies as a cause for Epilepsy. Particularly in the ability of a body to make or processes certain minerals and amino acids. Dr. Lawrence Wilson, MD says – Low levels of zinc, selenium, or other vital minerals are involved in many cases.  Calcium, magnesium and zinc are called the sedative minerals… Many people with seizure disorders have some degree of biologically unavailable calcium and magnesium, as revealed on hair mineral tests. He also notes food allergies, illness, stress, hormonal imbalance and ph imbalance as common triggers of seizures. These are things that deplete your body of minerals which are important for controlling the illness.

I decided to asked myself, ‘what have I been craving?’ Hmm… kale, sweet potatoes, squash, quinoa, chocolate and fish. All things loaded with the stuff recommended for controlling seizures. Luckily seizures are often what is called a “threshold” disorder. This means it takes a certain amount of triggers that deplete your body of the vitamins and minerals it is using to control your neurological functions and put you over the threshold. Raise your threshold, lower your incidents. There are some things you can’t control, like hormones or illness, but what you can do is give your body the extra stuff it needs at that time. Has it helped me? Yep.

You may not have Epilepsy, but there are other issues like high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, cancer,  osteoporosis, depression, insomnia, high blood pressure, PMS, dental disease and a whole host of others that can be significantly helped with the right diet.

As for me, If I am not physically capable I will not be emotionally capable. There is no way you can care for someone else, understand their feelings (magically or otherwise), know what their emotional needs are until you understand your own. Start with your gastric-intestinal brain, after all, it’s been telling bodies what they need for millions of years.

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