There is a school of thought that suggests that the gut has a brain of its own, but Cognitive Psychology argues that all our behaviours and emotions stem from the secretions produced in the brain

By Psychotherapist Mertha Mo Nyamande

Following on from last week’s article on Addictions: Substance Use Disorders (SUD) – this week on the Mertha Mo Nyamande Wellness and Happiness Series we discuss: Health and Diet

There is a school of thought that suggests that the gut has a brain of its own, but Cognitive Psychology argues that all our behaviours and emotions stem from the secretions produced in the brain.

The brain, however, relies on the quality of nutrients from the foods we eat, hence the sayings “we are what we eat”, “we are the sum total of what we think of all day long”, and “We think, therefore we are”.

Our diet therefore plays a major role in our outcomes in life.

This could explain various regional and continental practices due to different diets and energy levels achieved.

We therefore need to understand and be aware of the quality more than the quantity of what we put in the gut to feed our brains and the rest of the organs with, for this is what enables them to produce quality and far-reaching thoughts and results.



While our mindsets come from more deeper sources than our memories can remember, the ability to identify, understand, question and/or appraise these depend on the energy available to our brains for these processes to occur.

There are specific foods for certain times of day for a reason: Breakfast food that is eaten in the morning contains more sugars than salts to trigger the brain to secrete certain hormones that are needed and absorbed naturally during the day by the cellular activity of the muscles and various essential internal functions.

Consuming more salts in the mornings can obstruct secretion of needed hormones, leading to low energy when the body needs to be more active.

Similarly, evening meals are more savory than sweet, and if wrong foods are eaten, this creates problems like overactivity when the body needs to sleep.

This is because our diets can upset numerous processes of the body as they contain nutrients needed to energize the body in various physical activities in the day or the relaxation and sedation required at night.

Eating the wrong foods or an unbalanced diet often leaves the body still feeling hungry for the missing nutrients but habitually misread for needing more thereby binging/overdosing on the same and or wrong foodstuffs, thereby creating problems.

There is also an issue of wrong food combinations that can have adverse interactions and reactions.



A typical example is mixing sweet and savoury diets/herbs at the same time, unless this is carefully managed on a short-term basis to correct an imbalance, long-term use of such can cause long-term problems, including cancers.

Wrong food combinations can be common in poorer communities where people have not much choice to even think of the nutrients of a balanced diet.


Poor dietary management can lead to poor or excess hormone production in any area of the body due to either poor regulation in the brain or consuming too much of certain foods or substances that create acidic fluids and are often problematic if not utilised.

Physical health problems like Acid reflux stems from excess acids being produced at the wrong times of day.

Headaches and migraines are other problems, leading to other lasting problems like diabetes, asthmas, strokes, and stomach ulcers, and even blood toxicity, as the body is forced to process these excess toxins at high rates, failing which ends up burning/weakening the gut and veins as our bodies struggle to process these excess hormones than is required.

The acid burning essentially cauterizes nerve endings that allow for essential intracellular communication thereby creating lasting functionality problems.

For example, if the nerve-endings in the gut no longer work as effectively as they should, it is no longer able to communicate to the brain when enough food has been had or not enough; suppressing appetite when the body is hungry or exaggerating the appetite when too much food has already been eaten, thereby creating eating disorders.



Eating disorders can also be a mental control strategy where one feels overwhelmed by external demands. There can also be poor differentiation of which types of nutrients needed, whether hungry or thirsty.

Over and above the physical complications, mental processes are also impacted. Depression can result due to prolonged poor energy levels and motivation, or the other extreme whereby high levels create mania, or a combination of both mood extremes known as bipolar.

While these can be entirely mental, they can also be physically compromised, hence mood stabilizers are often salts-based, like lithium carbonate and sodium valproate.

Similarly, other substances including prescribed medication, illicit drugs and alcohol or the excessive acids can cause nerve and organic damage which resource neurological disorders and anxieties.

All these issues have a huge impact on self-esteem and confidence, causing a wide range of physical and mental limitations and disabilities.

Alcohol and other toxins, also make us more vulnerable to the addictive nature of these external and often synthetic chemicals, thereby barring the natural body processes from producing the required chemicals naturally.

Remedies and recommendations

A balanced diet is crucial to ensure all organs are catered for, not just the muscles for physical activities, but also complex nutrients and proteins for neural activity.

The interplay between the mental and physical is so fine that either can be confused for the other, therefore assessments should explore both quite extensively and holistically to avoid unhelpful kneejerk interventions and or treatments.

Dieticians and physicians should consider more collaborative working with mental health practitioners to ensure that food combinations, portion sizes and balanced diets are considered to minimize the adverse and toxic effects.

Mental Health: Wellbeing and Happiness Series with MoNya-Mental, by Psychotherapist Mertha Mo Nyamande @









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