"Currently, inflammation is considered a major factor in the development of depression, dementia, and other brain disorders," says Dr Drew Ramsey.
We know there's a gut-brain connection, but just how deep does it go? Could we treat depression just by adopting a particular diet?
We're in an epidemic of mental illness and in an epidemic of misinformation about mental illness. The myth that America is "overmedicated" regarding antidepressants only furthers the stigma that stops people from seeking help.
Big Pharma has got itself a bad, bad name. Many people become nervous at the mention of pharmaceutical intervention for mental illness, but there’s another solution that may bring ease to some: it’s called little farmer, quips psychiatrist Drew Ramsey. For how food can control conditions like anxiety and depression, look through Ramsey’s previous videos on Big Think. But here, Ramsey wants to address the popular notion that America is overprescribed. "I always like to point out that the ten percent of Americans who take antidepressants in the morning, they do that voluntarily because it's something that helps them." In his 16 years of psychiatric practice, Ramsey has more often seen mis-prescription rather than overprescription. But at least mis-prescribed people are on the path to finding the right treatment – much worse is the people who aren’t getting any help at all whether it be diet, or therapy, or pharmaceuticals. Psychiatric medication isn’t right for everyone, but in many cases it truly saves lives, says Ramsey. If we continue to propagate the over-prescription myth for this kind of medication (opiates are another issue), it may alienate those who need help from seeking it at all. Stigma doesn’t help in the effort to reduce severe life disruption and suicide, which for the latter totaled 42,773 Americans in 2014, a steep rise from 29,199 people in 1999. Drew Ramsey's book is Eat Complete: The 21 Nutrients That Fuel Brainpower, Boost Weight Loss, and Transform Your Health.
Just like alcohol, nicotine and other narcotics, sugar tickles our dopamine receptors in just the right way, inspiring our brain’s reward system. How will this end for us?
My favorite candy growing up was watermelon Jolly Ranchers. I loathed the variety pack, as that meant I’d have to weed through options—grape, acceptable; green apple, goodbye—to savor my chosen treat. When offered real watermelon in the summer, I declined. The flavor just didn’t compete.
Most of the foods we consume are created for the supermarket shelf, not for our health, says psychiatrist Drew Ramsey. But you can boost your brain function and overall well-being with this one very low-tech, analogue tool: your grocery list.
If you have an appointment with psychiatrist Drew Ramsey, there’s no guarantee that you’re going to walk out of there with a bottle full of pills. Sometimes you’ll emerge with a recipe for a blueberry-avocado-kefir-nut smoothie. Or a shopping list for how to make kale pesto. Ramsey is leading the charge in a relatively new branch known as nutritional psychiatry. Physically, we can see the difference between someone with a good diet versus a poor diet, the external symptoms of nutritional deficiency are obvious, and so you don’t have to stretch the imagination too far to imagine the difference it might make internally, particularly to your cognitive abilities and your mental health.
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