4 Foods To Avoid If You Suffer With Depression, Anxiety, Insomnia or Brain Fog

I’m Dr Hagmeyer, I want to talk you about some of the things you can do naturally if you are struggling with depression, anxiety, loss of focus or some other mental health problem.

Maybe you just have some brain fog and you’re not feeling like you use to. You know something is wrong, but you don’t want to take antidepressants and antianxiety pills or some other kind of psychiatric medication. Glad to hear that!

Almost every patient I work with struggles with these problems to one degree or another.  Many reach out because the antidepressants that they are taking don’t seem to be helping and are doing more harm than good. Deep down and within these patients knew there has to be something else that can be done.

I would agree! There is something more than popping some concoction of pills every morning that fail to address the root metabolic cause.

So if that’s you- someone who is struggling with depression, anxiety, loss of focus or some other kind of mental illness or problem related to the brain, in today’s video you’re going to learn some things that may completely change your perspective about your health-And it starts with food!.

This is a huge area of frustration to me because based on so much of the research that is being done and coming out- too many doctors are turning their patients into zombies rather than looking to help support their body and address some of the root causes.

Like many tissues of the body, your brain is incredible sensitive to inflammation and if we want to support your mental health (regardless of the label or diagnosis a doctor has given you) I don’t care if you have been diagnosed with being schizophrenic, Bipolar, General anxiety disorder, or just brain fog) – we need to ask ourselves what are some of the driving factors or the triggers behind Neuro-inflammation.

Since all health and disease starts with what we put in our mouth and how our body digests the foods we put into it- it only makes sense that we start rebuilding and repairing our brain with the foods we put into it.

With that being said, I want to share with you some of those things that can have a drastic impact from a dietary perspective on your mental health. These are things if you are not already doing, I want you to start today! This is foundational.

the major cause of depression is chronic brain inflammation

#1- Gluten-

If you have never heard of gluten, Gluten is a combination of proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, oats, and other glutinous grains.

Many times when I speak with perspective patients, I’m often told things like I tried a gluten free diet and it didn’t work for me, or My doctor testing me for gluten and I don’t have a problem with it.

Let me say for the record two things about these all too common statements. #1 your doctor probably didn’t test you correctly, and #2 going on a gluten free diet means more than swapping out your Wonder Bread and pizza for gluten free bread and gluten free pizza.

I want you to look at this illustration here, what you will notice is that you have gluten here and then you have all of the sub-fractions of gluten.

You might be saying to yourself, “Dr Hagmeyer my doctor tested me and he said I don’t have celiac disease”- Fact- Your doctor may have tested you for alfa-gliadin and he or she may have tested you for endomysial antibodies, they may have tested your for tissue transglutaminase and they may have even run a biopsy-

These tests are designed to rule out Celiac disease but they do not necessarily rule out Non Celiac Gluten sensitivity. Just because you don’t have celiac disease does not mean you don’t have NON-CELIAC GLUTEN SENSITIVITY.

To rule in or rule out gluten sensitivity the best test is the one that evaluates many of the protein sub fractions that are found in a kernel of wheat- Like the ones you see in the above illustration above. My question to you is this….Has your doctor tested you for Gamma gliadin 15, have they tested you for Glutenin or Prodynorphin? Have they looked at gluteomorphin? Have they tested you for the various Transglutaminase antibodies like TTG-2, or TTG3 or TTG-6?

If you were not tested for these sub fractions, you really cannot rule in or rule out a gluten sensitivity- and that means you really don’t know how gluten might be effecting your Brain.

The 14 Most Common Signs of Gluten Intolerance

  1. Bloating

Bloating is when you feel as if your belly is swollen or full of gas after you’ve eaten. This can make you feel miserable (5).

Although bloating is very common and can have many explanations, it may also be a sign of gluten intolerance.

In fact, feeling bloated is one of the most common complaints of people who are sensitive or intolerant to gluten (67).

One study showed that 87% of people who had suspected non-celiac gluten sensitivity experienced bloating (8).

BOTTOM LINE: Bloating is one of the most common symptoms of gluten intolerance. It involves the belly feeling swollen after eating.

  1. Diarrhea, Constipation and Smelly Feces

Occasionally getting diarrhea and constipation is normal, but it may be a cause for concern if it happens regularly.

These also happen to be a common symptom of gluten intolerance. Individuals with celiac disease experience inflammation in the gut after eating gluten.

This damages the gut lining and leads to poor nutrient absorption, resulting in significant digestive discomfort and frequent diarrhea or constipation (9).

However, gluten may also cause digestive symptoms in some people who don’t have celiac disease (10111213). More than 50% of gluten-sensitive individuals regularly experience diarrhea, while about 25% experience constipation (8).

Furthermore, individuals with celiac disease may experience pale and foul-smelling feces due to poor nutrient absorption.

Frequent diarrhea can cause some major health concerns, such as loss of electrolytes, dehydration and fatigue (14).

BOTTOM LINE: Gluten-intolerant people commonly experience diarrhea or constipation. Celiac disease patients may also experience pale and foul-smelling feces.

  1. Abdominal Pain

Abdominal pain is very common and can have numerous explanations.

However, it is also the single most common symptom of an intolerance to gluten (131516).

Up to 83% of those with gluten intolerance experience abdominal pain and discomfort after eating gluten (817).

BOTTOM LINE: Abdominal pain is the most common symptom of gluten intolerance, experienced by up to 83% of gluten intolerant individuals.

  1. Headaches

Many people experience headaches or migraines once in a while.

Migraines are a common condition, with 10–12% of the Western population experiencing them regularly (1819).

Interestingly, studies have shown that gluten-intolerant individuals may be more prone to migraines than others (2021).

If you have regular headaches or migraines without any apparent cause, you could be sensitive to gluten.

BOTTOM LINE: Gluten-intolerant individuals seem to be more prone to migraines than healthy people.

  1. Feeling Tired

Feeling tired is very common and usually not linked to any disease.

However, if you constantly feel very tired, then you should explore the possibility of an underlying cause. Gluten-intolerant individuals are very prone to fatigue and tiredness, especially after eating foods that contain gluten (2223).

Studies have shown that 60–82% of gluten-intolerant individuals commonly experience tiredness and fatigue (823). Furthermore, gluten intolerance can also cause iron-deficiency anemia, which in turn will cause more tiredness and lack of energy (24).

BOTTOM LINE: Feeling extremely tired is another common symptom, affecting about 60–82% of gluten-intolerant individuals.

  1. Skin Problems

Gluten intolerance can also affect your skin. A blistering skin condition called dermatitis herpetiformis is the skin manifestation of celiac disease (25). Everyone who has the disease is sensitive to gluten, but less than 10% of patients experience digestive symptoms that indicate celiac disease (25).

Furthermore, several other skin diseases have shown improvement while on a gluten-free diet. These include (26):

  • Psoriasis:An inflammatory disease of the skin characterized by scaling and reddening of the skin (272829).
  • Alopecia areata:An autoimmune disease that appears as non-scarring hair loss (283031).
  • Chronic urticaria:A skin condition characterized by recurrent, itchy, pink or red lesions with pale centers (3233).

BOTTOM LINE: Dermatitis herpetiformis is the skin manifestation of celiac disease. Several other skin diseases may also improve with a gluten-free diet.

  1. Depression

Depression affects about 6% of adults each year. The symptoms can be very disabling and involve feelings of hopelessness and sadness (34).

People with digestive issues seem to be more prone to both anxiety and depression, compared to healthy individuals (35). This is especially common among people who have celiac disease (36373839). There are a few theories about how gluten intolerance can drive depression. These include (40):

  • Abnormal serotonin levels:Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that allows cells to communicate. It is commonly known as one of the “happiness” hormones. Decreased amounts of it have been linked with depression (3741).
  • Gluten exorphins:These peptides are formed during the digestion of some of the gluten proteins. They may interfere with the central nervous system, which may raise the risk of depression (42).
  • Changes in the gut microbiota:Increased amounts of harmful bacteria and decreased amounts of beneficial bacteria may affect the central nervous system, increasing the risk of depression (43).

Several studies have shown that depressed individuals with self-reported gluten intolerance want to continue a gluten-free diet because they feel better, even though their digestive symptoms may not be resolved (4445).

That suggests that gluten exposure on its own may induce feelings of depression, irrespective to digestive symptoms.

BOTTOM LINE: Depression is more common among individuals with gluten intolerance.

  1. Unexplained Weight Loss

An unexpected weight change is often a cause for concern.

Although it can stem from various reasons, unexplained weight loss is a common side effect of undiagnosed celiac disease (46).

In one study in celiac disease patients, two-thirds had lost weight in the six months leading up to their diagnosis (17).

The weight loss may be explained by a variety of digestive symptoms, coupled with poor nutrient absorption.

BOTTOM LINE: Unexpected weight loss may be a sign of celiac disease, especially if coupled with other digestive symptoms.

  1. Iron-Deficiency Anemia

Iron-deficiency anemia is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world and accounts for anemia in 5% and 2% of American women and men, respectively (47).

Iron deficiency causes symptoms such as low blood volume, fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, pale skin and weakness (48). In celiac disease, nutrient absorption in the large intestine is impaired, resulting in a reduced amount of iron being absorbed from food (49).

Iron deficiency anemia may be among the first symptoms of celiac disease that your doctor notices (50). Recent studies suggest that iron deficiency may be significant in both children and adults with celiac disease (5152).

BOTTOM LINE: Celiac disease may cause poor absorption of iron from your diet, causing iron-deficiency anemia.

  1. Anxiety

Anxiety may affect 3–30% of people worldwide (53).

It involves feelings of worry, nervousness, unease and agitation. Furthermore, it often goes hand-in-hand with depression (54). Individuals with gluten intolerance seem to be more prone to anxiety and panic disorders than healthy individuals (3955565758).

Additionally, a study showed that up to 40% of individuals with self-reported gluten sensitivity stated that they regularly experienced anxiety (8).

BOTTOM LINE: Gluten-intolerant individuals seem to be more prone to anxiety than healthy individuals.

  1. Autoimmune Disorders

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack your digestive tract after you consume gluten (59).

Interestingly, having this autoimmune disease makes you more prone to other autoimmune diseases, such as autoimmune thyroid disease (6061). Furthermore, autoimmune thyroid disorders may be a risk factor for developing emotional and depressive disorders (626364).

This also makes celiac disease more common in people that have other autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, autoimmune liver diseases and inflammatory bowel disease (61).

BOTTOM LINE: Individuals with autoimmune diseases like celiac disease are more likely to get other autoimmune diseases, such as thyroid disorders.

  1. Joint and Muscle Pain

There are numerous reasons why people experience joint and muscle pain. There is a theory that those with celiac disease have a genetically determined over-sensitive or over-excitable nervous system.

Therefore, they may have a lower threshold to activate sensory neurons that cause pain in muscles and joints (6768). Moreover, gluten exposure may cause inflammation in gluten-sensitive individuals. The inflammation may result in widespread pain, including in joints and muscles (8).

BOTTOM LINE: Gluten-intolerant individuals commonly report joint and muscle pain. This is possibly due to an over-sensitive nervous system.

  1. Leg or Arm Numbness

Another surprising symptom of gluten intolerance is neuropathy, which involves numbness or tingling in the arms and legs.

Individuals with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity seem to be at a higher risk of experiencing arm and leg numbness, compared to healthy control groups (707172).

While the exact cause is not known, some have linked this symptom to the presence of certain antibodies related to gluten intolerance (73).

BOTTOM LINE: Gluten intolerance may cause numbness or tingling in the arms and legs.

  1. Brain Fog

“Brain fog” refers to the feeling of being unable to think clearly.

People have described it as being forgetful, having difficulty thinking, feeling cloudy and having mental fatigue (74).

Having a “foggy mind” is a common symptom of gluten intolerance, affecting up to 40% of gluten-intolerant individuals (87576).

This symptom may be caused by a reaction to certain antibodies in gluten, but the exact reason is unknown (7778).

BOTTOM LINE: Gluten-intolerant individuals may experience brain fog. It involves having difficulty thinking, mental fatigue and forgetfulness.

how to test for gluten intolerance and celiac disease

So what can we take away from this? We can take away that accurate testing is the first step towards an accurate diagnosis and without an accurate diagnosis- an effective treatment plan is not possible.

The next thing I want to show you is from a study done in 2013. The headline of this study shows that not only does the dietary intake of wheat cause inflammation, it says what?

Cross reactive Foods

Are you following a strict gluten-free lifestyle, yet you still suffer from symptoms related to gluten?

If so, it could be that you’re eating foods that do not contain gluten but your body reacts to them as if they do. This process is called cross-reactivity.

There are a number of naturally gluten-free foods such as cheese, chocolate and coffee, which contain proteins so similar to gluten that your body confuses them with gluten. When you eat these foods, your body and immune system react as if you just ate a bowl of whole-wheat pasta.

It’s estimated that at least 50% of those who are gluten intolerant are also sensitive to dairy (cheese, yogurt, milk and butter) due to its cross-reactivity with gluten.

Below is a list of common foods that cross-react with gluten:

  • Amaranth
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Corn
  • Dairy, i.e. milk and cheese (alpha-casein, beta-casein, casomorphin, butyrophilin, whey protein)
  • Egg
  • Hemp
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Polish wheat
  • Potato
  • Rye
  • Rice
  • Sesame
  • Spelt
  • Sorghum
  • Soy
  • Tapioca
  • Teff
  • Yeast

Take a look at the study below. It says the dietary intake of wheat and OTHER cereal grains and their role in inflammation. So we know that wheat causes inflammation and we also know that “other cereal grains” also can cause inflammation. This is why I believe so strongly in testing for cross reactive grains. You could be eating foods that you think are health but your immune system and driving an inflammatory response.

dietary intake of wheat and their role in inflammation

Ok so are their other foods that might be driving and inflammatory reaction in your Brain leading to brain fog, depression, anxiety, headaches, or other mental health problem.

The answer is a resounding- absolutely YES- another big problem for people is Milk? Consider this study. Immune activation by casein dietary antigens and bipolar. Casein is a protein found in milk proteins. We know that the proteins found in milk and dairy products (Caseins, Whey, Exorphins, Prodynorphins) have a similar or overlapping amino acid sequence to gluten and in certain individuals, the ingestion of these foods creates the same immunological response that eating gluten can.

immune activation by casein dietary antigens in bipolar disorder

Another words these proteins can affect the opiate receptors of the brain the same way Gluten does. When your body comes in contact with these foreign proteins, antibodies are formed and these antibodies can bind to various tissues, glands, muscles, organs- of your body. This is one of the reasons why people who have one autoimmune disease are often victims of several autoimmune diseases. This is also a reason why for many people if they go a gluten free diet, if all they do is swap out their pretzels, beer and pizza for gluten free variations they will never get well. This may be one of the reason why after going on a gluten free diet you didn’t feel better- it’s not that it didn’t work- you didn’t do it correctly.

the opioid effects of gluten explains: asymptomatic celiac disease

Ok so what else might be driving inflammation in your body besides, Gluten, Milk, and other cereal grains?

AMINO ACID IMBALANCES

Chances are if you are struggling with Depression, Anxiety, Brain fog and now I want to add in some additional symptoms Fatigue, Insomnia, changes in appetite, increased pain, another consideration is your individual amino acid profile. The connection between amino acid imbalances specifically Tryptophan to Branched Chain amino acids and blood sugar problems are very important when working with patients who struggle with Depression, Brain fog, Anxiety. While this may seem complex and it is- I’m going to unpack this a bit and break down for you.

High carb diets= whether you are vegan, vegetarian, you love carbohydrates, you have a sugar addiction, you eat lots of fruit- it doesn’t matter- the end result is an insulin spike.

When you have too much sugar in your body either because your have a problem with your insulin receptors or you have a problem with just eating too much sugar, your pancreas gets rid of this excess sugar by increasing insulin-Insulin takes the sugar in your bloodstream and it sweeps it into the cells- the problem is when your diet is high in carbs- you have high insulin and that high insulin decreases the amount of Branched chain amino acids into brain.

Less Branched Chain Amino Acids into brain means you have more tryptophan entering the brain. If you look at this illustration- BCAA compete with tryptophan for entry into the brain.

amino acid imbalance Tryptophan

Once Tryptophan enters the brain it will be converted into

  1. Serotonin
  2. Melatonin or if the body is inflamed
  3. Kyurenate or Quinolinate

Tryptophan conversion with vitamin B6

What does all this mean? Remember this…..When you eat a low-protein, carbohydrate-rich diet (full of high glycemic starches, high glycemic fruits) you will end up with higher levels of Tryptophan in the brain, but because of inflammation that Tryptophan gets converted into Kyurenate , Picolinate or Quinolinic acid– all of which are markers of neuro-inflammation.

You can see from the study below- elevated levels of QUINN are not good for the brain! This marker indicates the brain is inflamed!

Journal of neuroinflammation

So just a recap- we talked about Gluten, we talked about Dairy, we talked about Branched Chain amino acids and Tryptophan levels and serotonin-

What else should you know about the inflammatory foods we eat and it’s impact on your mental health?

Lectins

This bring us to Lectins– Lectins are carbohydrate binding proteins, they are found in nuts, seeds, beans, night shade vegetables they are even found in various receptor in the cells of your body. In this study titled “Do Dietary lectins cause Disease?”

dietary lecins and disease

This study points out several things about lectins, that I believe have implications related to mental health, Anxiety, Depression, Brain Fog, loss of focus, loss of concentration.

  1. damage the intestinal lining by stripping away the protective mucous coat. This in turn can put you at risk for infection and things like bacterial overgrowth. They can also damage the intestinal tissue that interrupts nutrient absorption, healthy gut flora, and the ability to push food through and out of the body.
  2. They cause a local toxic and inflammatory responses when the lectin attaches to a tissue in your body. This is how researchers are linking lectins to autoimmune disease things like Rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes.
  3. Lectins also cause discharge of histamine from gastric mast cells,15 which stimulates acid secretion. This might lead to things like ulcers, Reflux and H.pylori infection.
  4. Lectin affects weight gain by disrupting the duties of a hormone called Leptin. Leptin is produced within the fat cells and tells your brain when it is time to stop eating.
    This is because lectins can bind to Leptin receptors, rendering Leptin’s messaging system ineffective. The brain is never given the message that the body is satisfied, so the eating continues- the end result- you gain weight.
  5. The vagus nerve, which extends from the gut to the brain, plays a huge role in mood. This is why many people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) also struggle with clinical depression.
    Of those who seek treatment for IBS, about 50% to 90% have a psychiatric disorder, including generalized anxiety disorder and major depression. Other digestive problems are also associated with depression and anxiety.

If we talk for just a moment about leaky gut and Major depression one might consider this study“ The Gut-brain barrier in major depression intestinal mucosal dysfunction”

the gut-brain barrier in major depression

Here is another study showing how Leaky gut is connected to autoimmune disease.

zonulin, regulation of tight junctions, and autoimmune diseases

And finally these two medical studies Zonulin and its regulation of the intestinal barrier function- “The biological door to inflammation, autoimmunity and cancer”

zonulin the biological door to inflammation, autoimmunity, and cancer

Dr Hagmeyer, “So what’s the point of you showing me all these medical studies?”

Well……If it’s not obvious yet- here it is in a nutshell- The foods we put into our body, our nutritional status, Leaky gut, Lectins, Amino acids imbalacnes all have a tremendous impact on your mental health. Your doctor can not evaluate you for these things in the 15-30 minutes office visit that you have with him every 6-12 months.- It’s a complete joke!

I would venture to say- that the moment many of your doctors see your health file- They are not thinking- “How am I going to address the root cause of this person’s depression, anxiety, brain fog, insomnia, fatigue. They are thinking what change am I making to this patients cocktail of existing medications. That’s why you will NEVER get better in the current model you are trapped in. You Need Functional Medicine.  You Need Functional Medicine for that! You can learn more at DrHagmeyer.com

So there you have it folks! I hope you learned a thing or two!

I hope I made a strong enough case as to why you should reconsider how some of the foods we eat promote and drive inflammation, cause a leaky gut, cause nutritional deficiencies and imbalances between different amino acids and how this in turn can cause or worsen mental health problems.

What I find frightening is that is this day and age- some doctors will laugh at their patients when the patient asks them about a leaky gut- But yet these are the same doctors who only listen to you for about 15-30 minutes and offer you a prescription. This mentality of health care needs to stop. Don’t let this stop YOU from taking back your body your brain and your future! Today’s video only scratches the surface of natural things related to mental health. Things like hormones, Thyroid disease, Leaky Gut, Gut disbiosis, heavy metal toxicity, blood sugar imbalances, Infections, yeast overgrowth, methylation defects, and genetics are all so very important and things I consider when working with a new patient who suffers with mental health problems.

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