Friday, April 5, 2013

The Second Brain

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
I was fully prepared for a Paleo FAIL.  I entered April with a white knuckle grip on my cynical, life is shitty attitude, and I was NOT going to let go.  Wait, have I mentioned this already?  Probably.  See, so attached that I am still romanticizing those days.

I expected to hate Paleo.  I expected to not be prepared enough to meet the demands of a non-processed food diet.  I expected to sneak bites of macaroni and cheese or pizza from the kitchen when no one was looking.
"Sorry, vegans.  I once was one of you, believe it or not"

So far, none of that has been true.  Five days in and I still love it.  I wake up refreshed, I sleep like I haven't in months, and I'm never hungry or without something on hand to eat.  And most crazy thing of all: I feel, dare I say...happy.   I still yell at my kids and get mad at my husband, I am human after all, but generally speaking, my attitude has shifted.  It's like I have new eyes and the world is brighter.

A reader and friend suggested a couple books due to my proclamation of loving the "all-the-meat-I-can-eat" Paleo diet.  The books, The Diet Cure and The Mood Cure, are on their way to my doorstep as I type.  The gist of the story seems to be this:  high protein diets can positively effect the neurotransmitters in our bodies that contribute to our outlook or mood.  I'm really excited about checking these books out to see the science behind the claim.  Although, I might assert that this month could be a good example of living proof.

I have also been thinking about something I learned in my last grad school, that the gut-brain connection is really important.  The vagus nerve carries 90% of the nerve signals from the gut to the brain, not the other way around.  The gut is giving our brain more signals and more neurotransmitters than what we usually think of as the "normal" nervous system functioning, that our brain controls everything.  Dr. Michael D. Gershon, who coined the term, "the second brain" in regards to the gut and later published a book of the same title, found in his research that 95% of the body's serotonin is produced in the gut.  Hey, isn't serotonin linked to depression and anxiety?

So, I was thinking that it makes so much sense that although in my head, I was not willing to let go of my crappy, cynical attitude, since my gut was feeling better...it just took over.  I found this blog, The Paleo Mom, and she has an easy to read post on this phenomenon of the second brain, and some good recipes.

Now, I am going to go cook up that grass-fed steak in my fridge.  With some mushrooms and onions and kale.  Mmmmm.

(To be fair, I am eating lots of fruits and veggies too.)


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