HOW NUTRITION AFFECTS EMOTIONS AND BEHAVIOR
By Lawrence Wilson, MD
© July 2014, The Center For Development
intimate relationship exists between nutritional imbalances and psychological
or behavioral symptoms and conditions.
This is sometimes called the body-mind connection. Hair tissue mineral analysis, when
performed and interpreted correctly, illustrates this close connection. It can also indicate causes and
corrective action needed in most cases of mental and emotional illness.
Since this is large claim, I will illustrate with a few short cases. Much more on this subject is available in the book I wrote, Nutritional Balancing And Hair Mineral Analysis, and in many other articles on this site.
More and more research indicates that autism is a biochemical disorder of the brain. This is our experience as well. The role of mercury, other vaccine-related toxins, toxic metals, toxic chemicals found in motherŐs milk, pharmaceutical drugs, vaccines and other sources, can all contribute.
Intestinal dysbiosis and food allergies also play a significant role in many cases. These children can do extremely well on a nutritional balancing program. See the articles on autism on this site for a case history and much more information.
CALCIUM, MAGNESIUM, AND ZINC -
THE BIOCHEMICAL SEDATIVES FOR HYPERKINESIS AND MANY LEARNING DISABILITIES
Joey, age three, was diagnosed as learning disabled and hyperkinetic. It was difficult for him to sit still for more than a few minutes. Based on his hair tissue mineral analysis, he began taking a food supplement containing calcium, magnesium, and zinc - three elements that help calm the nervous system. Within two days his mother reported he was more relaxed and easier to manage. He began to sleep better, and was able to sit still and play like a normal child.
Calcium raises the threshold at which nerves cells fire, thus reducing the irritability or sensitivity of the nervous system. A person whose tissue calcium level is low is prone to nervous irritability. Zinc is another anti-stress nutrient. Zinc deficiency is associated with emotional instability. Magnesium is another powerful sedative. Magnesium sulfate is routinely given to patients during heart attacks as a sedative medication. For more information, read Attention Deficit.
BIOCHEMICAL DEPRESSION – MANY TYPES EXIST
Case history. Norma complained of
fatigue and depression. A tissue
mineral test revealed very elevated
calcium and magnesium levels, and low levels of sodium and potassium.
This pattern is associated with great fatigue and a very sluggish thyroid and adrenal glandular activity. We call this tendency an exhaustion stage of stress or a slow metabolic or oxidation rate. It is the most common pattern associated with feelings of depression.
With corrective diet and the several nutritional supplements, Norma's moods became more even within three months. She has since remained well for over 10 years.
also had a second indicator for depression. Her hair tissue calcium level was above about 175-200
mg%. This is called a calcium shell pattern.
This pattern is associated with psychological withdrawal. Often it occurs in persons who are very emotionally sensitive who are under a lot of stress, or who do not handle stress that well. They withdraw and depression is one of their common symptoms.
Correction is similar to the first situation, namely to support and enhance the activity of the adrenal glands and the thyroid gland to allow the person to make more energy within the body cells.
This approach, using only a natural diet high enough in protein and vegetables, low in sugars and fats, plus a few nutritional supplements of thyroid, adrenal, B-complex vitamins, a digestive aid and some calcium and magnesium to allay anxiety and help the person relax, usually resolves this type of depression as well. It might take a little longer than the first situation above, but not necessarily.
does not have this situation, which is more serious than the other two. It is a ratio of sodium to potassium in
the hair tissue that is less than about 2.5:1. This is called an inversion
of the Na/K ratio.
A low Na/K ratio of this type is a further indicator of fatigue, blood sugar imbalance, resentment, frustration, hostility and other metabolic problems as well.
In these instances, the supplement program must include a little copper (up to 3 mg/day), some extra manganese (up to 15 mg/day) and some zinc as well. We use a product called Limcomin by Endomet Labs to supply all these and more in one tablet.
When done properly, all three types of depression can be resolved, often in a matter of months or less, without the need for drugs. Of course, if there is a lifestyle or emotional issue that must be addressed, this should be done as well or one is simply treating a symptom, nothing more. This will not be as effective as a complete improvement in the lifestyle of the person. However, the nutrition programs we offer will assist with psychological treatments of all kinds by strengthening the body and assisting the brain to function more clearly.
Copper imbalance. This is another common cause of depression. Still others involve other toxic metals and other tissue mineral imbalances such as a fast oxidation rate with a low sodium/potassium ratio. This is more common in men, while the copper imbalance is more common in women. For more information, read Depression And How To Correct It.
OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER OR OCD
This is commonly associated with copper imbalance, manganese toxicity and perhaps other biochemical imbalances. As these improve, often the symptoms of OCD also improve a lot.
Individuals with bipolar or manic-depressive disorder often have an underlying imbalance of slow oxidation and often copper imbalance. In addition, they often have a four highs pattern on a hair test or others indicating extreme stress. The combination of these two traits leads to the common pattern of days of high energy followed by a period of very low energy and depression. This can be corrected in most cases with nutritional balancing science in a relatively short time of months, usually, and with relatively little difficulty if one is willing to follow the program carefully.
Copper imbalance, mercury toxicity, manganese toxicity, cadmium toxicity and other imbalances are associated with schizophrenias. Most respond beautifully to balancing the body chemistry. Results can be fast, but may take longer if a person is far out of balance.
Copper and Schizophrenia. Joan, age 18, was a patient in Scottsdale Camelback Hospital with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. She responded poorly to medication and psychotherapy. Tissue mineral testing revealed a copper level of 40 mg%, about 15 times normal. Joan was placed on a diet and nutritional supplements to reduce tissue copper.
Her condition improved so radically she was released from all psychiatric care within six months, and returned to high school the following September. Excess tissue copper stimulates the biogenic amines, neurotransmitters associated with depression, anxiety, mood swings and schizophrenia. Copper imbalance is quite common but goes undiagnosed because the tissue mineral test is not often done.
SEIZURES OR EPILEPSY
Nutritional balancing programs have helped many people with epilepsy and seizures even when medical tests have failed to detect an obvious cause for the seizures, and even when drug therapy has not worked at all. See the article on this website regarding more details about handling many cases of Epilepsy.
OTHER TOXIC METALS AND MENTAL HEALTH
More on Copper. anyone interested in the emotions and their relationship to body chemistry needs to read the two articles on this site, Copper Toxicity Syndrome and Copper Elimination Symptoms. Copper is involved in numerous emotional and psychological disorders and random symptoms such as anxiety, mind racing, mood swings, irritability and others. This is because copper is a very bioactive mineral, especially in relation to the nervous system. It is associated with stimulation of the biogenic amines, epinephrine, norepinephrine and dopamine. It is also involved in serotonin, monoamine oxidase (MAO) and other extremely powerful neurotransmitter substances and chemicals that influence nervous activity.
Lead. Thousands of children in the United States are affected by lead poisoning. Lead can cause mental retardation and hyperactivity in children, and violent behavior in adults.
Mercury. The mad hatters in Alice in Wonderland were mercury-toxic. They rubbed mercury on felt to make hats. Mercury accumulates in the brain, where it can cause severe behavior changes. Silver amalgam fillings, fungicides and paints are sources of mercury.
Aluminum. Hair levels of aluminum are increasing rapidly in the American population. Research links excess aluminum with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. Aluminum is acquired by drinking soda and beer from aluminum cans, and from anti-perspirants, anti-acids, table salt, cosmetics, salted foods, tap water, aluminum cookware and perhaps occupational exposure. It can be removed from the body if detected early enough.
Cadmium. The Journal of Learning Disabilities, Vol. 18, #10, 1985, pp. 609-612 reported that among 980 male U.S. Navy recruits entering basic training, a significant correlation was found between hair cadmium levels and behavior problems. "The three subjects with the highest cadmium level all displayed serious behavior difficulties in recruit training". For more information, read Cadmium.
OTHER NUTRIENT DEFICIENCIES AND BEHAVIOR
B-complex vitamins are essential for proper nervous system functioning. Many people report more energy and less depression when they take thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3) and pyridoxine (B6). Pantothenic acid (B5) also helps energy production. Two other members of the B-complex family, choline and inositol, act as natural tranquilizers.
Many other nutrients can affect behavior. L-Taurine and l-tryptophan have a calming effect. L-phenylalanine and l-tyrosine can enhance thyroid activity and improve energy and mood. There are others as well.
HYPOGLYCEMIA AND BEHAVIOR DISORDERS
Carbohydrate intolerance is a common nutritional disorder that produces severe behavior changes. Diets high in carbohydrates, and deficiencies of manganese, chromium and other minerals are often involved. Among the most common symptoms of hypoglycemia are confusion, irritability, anxiety and at times violence. It is quite simple to identify carbohydrate intolerance and correct it with diet and food supplements, yet this common malady is often overlooked. For more information, read Hypoglycemia.
FOOD INTOLERANCE AND BEHAVIOR
Any food can cause reactions that affect the nervous system. One possible reason for these reactions is that histamine, the chemical that is released in allergic phenomena, can be released in the brain causing alterations in brain chemistry.
Brain allergies are often overlooked in the search for reasons for anti-social behavior. One cause of ADHD is a reaction to allergic foods or chemical additives found in childrenŐs foods. Dr. Benjamin Feingold, MD pioneered the study of food allergies on childrenŐs behavior. Depression can also be the result of food allergies, or allergies to chemicals in food or drinking water. For more information, read Food Intolerance.
ANXIETY AND PANIC ATTACKS
This is one of the easiest conditions to correct using nutritional balancing science. Common imbalances include low or high and biounavailable calcium and magnesium in the body, low zinc, high copper, high levels of toxic metals, and rarely other imbalances. Read Anxiety on this website for more information.
ALCOHOLISM AND DRUG ABUSE
Nutritional imbalances play a role to some degree with these conditions. Balancing body chemistry can particularly help some people to avoid a relapse by reducing cravings for alcohol, sweets and drugs. For more information read Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.
WHY ISN'T NUTRITION INCORPORATED MORE INTO MENTAL HEALTH CARE?
Most likely, it is a combination of several factors:
1. Ignorance. Most health professionals of all kinds are unaware of the strong links between nutritional and biochemical imbalances and mental or emotional disorders.
2. Reticence on the part of medical and psychological professionals to change their mode of practice. Nutrition is not among the disciplines stressed in medical school or counseling and psychology programs.
3. The drug companies and others who do not want the people healthy control a lot of medical care everywhere in the developed world. They influence professional education, journal advertising, government policies, television and media coverage, and more.
There is little money to be made giving people dietary advice and nutritional supplements. Hence, there is no incentive to conduct large-scale studies and to promote the ideas discussed in this article.
The best remedy for this would be to allow free competition among all the healing arts. However, the drug companies and other special interest groups know this, and they deliberately restrict competition through licensing laws, mainly, and through concentration of power in the hands of governments around the world.
However, there is plenty of scientific evidence to support everything discussed above. Several excellent references are listed at the end of this article. Many contain numerous medical references on the subject of diet, nutrition and behavior.
1. Abramson, E.M. and Pezet, A.W., Body, Mind and Sugar, Holt, Reinhart and Winston, New York, 1951.
2. Chatsworth, L., and Chatsworth, C., Energy, Healthview Publishing, Charlottsville, Virginia, 1985.
3. Dufty, W., Sugar Blues, Warner Books, New York, 1975.
4. Feingold, B., Is Your Child Hyperactive, Random House, New York, 1975.
5. Larson, J.M., Seven Weeks to Sobriety - The Proven Program To Fight Alcoholism Through Nutrition, Ballantine/Wellspring, New York, 1997.
6. Pfeiffer, C., Mental and Elemental Nutrients, Keats Publishing, New Canaan, Connecticut, 1975.
7. Phelps, J. K., and Nourse, A., The Hidden Addiction, Little Brown & Company, Boston & Toronto, 1986.
8. Schauss, A., Diet, Crime and Delinquency, Parker House, Berkeley, California, 1981.
9. Williams, R., Nutrition Against Disease, Pitman Publishing, New York, 1971.
10. Wilson, L., Nutritional Balancing and Hair Mineral Analysis, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc., Prescott, AZ, 1998.
11. Yudkin, J., Sweet
and Dangerous, Peter H. Wyden, New York, 1972.