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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Mental Health through Intestinal Health

Sheila Shea

Leading neurologists and nutritionists suggest that problems in the digestive system may be the source of some neurological problems—such as cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s, depression, bipolarity, learning disabilities, Parkinson’s, autism and multiple sclerosis. Three primary contributing factors to neurological problems are leaky gut, insulin resistance and advanced glycation end products (AGE).

A leaking gut allows inflammatory substances secreted by gut bacteria into the blood stream. These substances can dissolve the blood-brain barrier and create lesions in the white matter of the brain. With insulin resistance, brain cells cannot take in glucose. The cells become malnourished and the person experiences brain fog and mental confusion.

When glucose levels are high in the blood, glucose molecules bind with proteins or fats in the bloodstream and create a waste byproduct, or AGE. The sugar-coated particles travel to the brain where they dissolve the blood-brain barrier and create plaques.

To keep the brain healthy, phase out processed foods and added sugars. Some may need to eliminate complex sugars (grains, beans, starchy roots, lactose) until they heal. The most successful diets to heal the mind via the gut focus on fermented foods, meat, fish, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and honey. A sound mental recovery program includes diet, detoxification with colon hydrotherapy, movement and meditation, with a commitment of one to two years.

Sheila Shea, MA, is director of the Intestinal Health Institute, a local business promoting full-spectrum gastrointestinal health through colon hydrotherapy, nutrition and education workshops. For more information, call 520-325-9686, email [email protected] or visit See ad, page 21.