Do you ever feel like your brain is not working?

I just came back from Texas for a weekend. When I go to the home country, I psychologically synapse into my childhood, which includes chicken-fried steak and Mexican food. I eat lots of chips and guacamole without giving a thought to the consequences. There’s a cheesesteak sandwich filled with jalapeños that I salivate for. I’m salivating right now. However, when I got home, it took a week for my body to return to it’s normal…function, if you know what I mean. Not only did I have trouble in the plumbing category, I was mentally foggy and a little bit blue for a whole week.

You see, we are designed from scratch to be alert, focused, happy and mentally sharp, says Dr. Mark Hyman in Broken Brain a documentary style series of interviews and information on how the brain works interdependently with your whole body to help you live your life as you were meant to live it. The only reason that breaks down is that we interrupt the plan with Mexican food and cheesesteak sandwiches. (Did I mention the waffle fries?)

I spent the whole week wondering why I was so sluggish and sad and then I remembered, thanks to Dr. Hyman, that anxiety and depression are not diseases, they are symptoms telling my brain it needs to take action. If I had interpreted that sad cloud as depression and gone to a regular doctor, she would most likely pull out the prescription pad. She would never take the time to ask about the Mexican food. That’s not altogether her fault because our current system forces docs to shuttle people through examining rooms like veal. There’s no way to diagnose an issue; there’s just enough time to follow the prescription protocol.

All that food was divine in the moment, but extremely inflammatory…not just to my brain, but to my gut, which is where 90% of my serotonin is manufactured. (That’s the hormone that keeps me peaceful and calm.) Without that serotonin, I become scary.

Have you ever taken a lunch break from a meeting and come back to find that the people in the room are less intelligent than you thought they were this morning? Do you find yourself more irritable than usual? You think you’re irritated because of that guy from sales, but really you’re irritated because your gut is inflamed and your body is confused. It’s possible he had the same lunch, but let’s be grownups and take responsibility for our own actions.

Diets high in sugar and low in healthy fats have shown in research to lead not only to depression, but homicide, suicide, violence and poverty… which, now that I see it in writing, create a veritable chain of events all linked back to that double cheeseburger with bacon. If I commit homicide at work, I will most certainly feel the effects of poverty when I’m in jail. I’m not saying you should never eat a bacon cheeseburger — I would never should on you — but I’m a fan of informed consent. Before I decide to eat that lunch full of saturated fats and simple carbohydrates, I might consider whether I have any important work to do this afternoon. Do I have an important negotiation planned this afternoon? Is there any reason I might need the full capacity of my brain? Maybe I should save the burger for after work.

We’ve heard for years about how cardio vascular health, but the foods that are good for the heart are also good for the brain. Dr. Hyman’s docu-series shares a lot more details, but here are the cliff notes: what influences the brain comes from the gut. Therefore, a diet with lots of color will reduce the inflammation in your system. Mustard, catsup and pickles don’t count as vegetables. You don’t like vegetables? Try weed.

Just kidding. But seriously, I started taking an anti-inflammatory supplement that comes in several forms for convenience (one is a shot glass!!). Besides the fact their motto is, We seaweed differently, I love how my over 50 body feels without the mental sludge and joint pain that I used to think was a product of age. Truth: inflammation is not a product of age, it’s a product of our diet and environment. Do I advocate for taking a supplement and eating all the cheeseburgers you want? Well…. that’s a start, but I would like to suggest that whatever all-natural super nutrient you decide to consume, over time your body will start to crave more nutrients…and the cheeseburger becomes invariably less appealing.

I created 360º Life Strategies to share the strategies I’ve learned to help the professional woman optimize her whole life so she can get the real work done at the office and have time left for the things that matter most. I remove the hard work from figuring out your equation for a balanced life so you can be free to live by design. Check out my web site and sign up to stay informed of new retreats, masterminds and workshops that will help you live your whole life better.