Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Brain Chemistry Diet

I am currently reading The Brain Chemistry Diet : The Personalized Prescription for Balancing Mood, Relieving Stress, and Conquering Depression, Based on Your Personality Profile. I believe it's been republished as The Brain Chemistry Plan. It is fascinating reading, the premise being that we all fit somewhat into six psychological types depending on our brain chemistry. There is a test to take in the book to determine which type you fit in to. The test is also here if you're interested to see which type you are.

For each type, a suggested diet and nutritional supplements are suggested, as well as other ways to optimize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of that type. I was surprised when the test classified me as a Dreamer, with Guardian being a very close second. I would have chosen Guardian had I just looked at the list. I didn't want to be a Dreamer. But as I continued to read the Dreamer chapter, some things did begin to make sense. The Dreamer "in trouble" can become schizophrenic. I do not feel I've ever been even close to that kind of trouble; I have never heard voices and I do not retreat to an alternate world, but I do often berate myself for what I perceive as selfishness, which turns out to be part of my nature to be very inward focused. I find these things fascinating.

Dr. Lesser explains that all neurons in our central nervous system, including the brain, are activated and deactivated by neurotransmitters. He goes on to say that:

While there's only one way for the message to get through - via a neurotransmitter [in the synapse or gap] between neurons - there are [many] ways for the message not to get through:
This all makes more sense to me than ambiguous claims and long lists of "bad things that might happen to you if you eat too much sugar." The diets he suggests are really just healthy diets that any doctor would suggest, with only slight variations. However, he does assert that most of the people he treats are malnourished due to the typical American diet that is so devoid of real nutrition, vitamins, and minerals. He suggests what we've all heard if we've done any type of nutritional research--avoid all whites: flour, sugar, rice, and pasta.

I'm on Day Two of no sugar and no Diet Pepsi. It hasn't been terribly difficult, but I'm still in "high motivation phase;" I haven't faced a crisis, which is when I seek consolation in food, or a special event (like the weekend), when I celebrate with food. My attitude and mood have been better, but the sun has also been shining and the days longer and warmer. My mood plummeted this evening as it began to rain and as I went to a ladies Bible study. Sounds odd, I know, but for a person as shy as I am, going to a group Bible study is extremely exhausting and intimidating. I make myself do it to grow.

Being shy and socially ill at ease is part of the Dreamer trait. Vincent van Gogh is the example given in the book of a Dreamer. I found that very interesting because I love van Gogh's work. My Mom and I visited the Vincent van Gogh museum in Amsterdam last April. It was a huge treat. As I looked at his paintings--his real paintings--I felt such a kinship, like he was speaking to me and I understood. So to read that in this book was surprising, confirming, maybe even alarming? He was obviously a tortured soul, a Dreamer in trouble. Could it have been his poverty and poor diet that contributed to his mental illness? Very interesting (and sad) to think how his life could have been different with proper nutrition.

So, take the test. What type are you?

1 comment:

Tracey said...

I took the quiz; I am a Lover -- but you probably already knew that! :-)