What does breakfast have to do with mental health? A good deal, according to Sally Fallon Morell, President of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Sally covers today the role nutrition plays in our wellbeing. Nutrient deficiencies can easily lead to mental instability. Sally reviews the nutrients needed for healthy brain and cellular function, like cholesterol and saturated fats. She explains how animal fats work synergistically in the body to create our own cannabinoids, chemicals that regulate reward pathways and increase dopamine release. She helps us understand what to put on the table and what to avoid. Bone broth is in, for example; MSG, soy, and GMOs are out. Basically, she helps us understand how to build a nutrient-dense foundation for good mental and physical health.
Visit Sally’s blog: nourishingtraditions.com
Join the Weston A. Price Foundation’s email list.
Listen to the episode here
Within the below transcript the bolded text is Hilda
When working with someone with addiction, depression or other mental illness, it’s important to ask them straight up. What did you have for breakfast? This is Episode 361. Our guest is Sally Fallon Morell. She is the President of the Weston A. Price Foundation, the author of Nourishing Traditions and other amazing books and an advocate for real food for real health. In this episode, she brings to the fore the role nutrition plays in our mental wellness.
She begins by suggesting that we rule out nutrient deficiencies to play a role in our mental stability and sense of wellbeing. Sally reveals the nutrients needed for a healthy brain and cellular function like cholesterol and saturated fats. She explains how animal fats work synergistically in the body to create our own cannabinoids, chemicals that regulate reward pathways and increase dopamine release. She also helps us understand what to put on the table and avoid putting it on the table.
Bone broth is in, for example, MSG soy and GMOs are out. Basically, Sally helps us understand how to build a nutrient-dense foundation for good mental and physical health. Before we get into the conversation, I want to invite you to join our email list. Censorship is real. Let’s have a direct line of communication. Join our email list to stay abreast of actual alerts in your area, along with important topics of interest like food freedom, upcoming events and more. Go to WestonAPrice.org and click on the yellow button on the homepage to sign up.
Welcome to the show, Sally.
Thank you, Hilda. It’s always great to be here.
We are going to address a topic that is so important. It’s the topic of mental health. Talk to us about what you know about this.
It’s funny. You should ask me because I’ve been reading a book about addictions. The author talks about dopamine and feel-good chemicals and so forth but not once in the book is diet mentioned except to say that people get addicted to sugar, salt and fat. That shows a real lack of understanding. To me, the very first question you ask anyone who’s suffering from addiction, depression and mental issues is what did you have for breakfast? What do you eat for breakfast? What do you eat the rest of the day? If you start your day off with cereal and skim milk, a big pastry or pop tart and a big cup of coffee, you’re going to have some mental problems during the day with low blood sugar and so forth. I always say the very first thing you do in treating mental illness is get people on good high-fat foods.
That makes so much sense because what is good for our bodies and keeping us strong is also good for our minds. The opposite is true. When we eat junk, we’re not giving our brain even the building blocks it needs.
We’re not nourishing our brains and the brain needs to be nourished like every other part of the body. The key nourishment for the brain is cholesterol, the key nutrient for brain health. All the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, K and the B vitamins and so forth. One example I like to give, when we talk about addictions, there is a chemical in the body that’s exactly the same as what’s in marijuana. We call them endocannabinoids. It’s more than one chemical.
We have receptors for these endocannabinoids and the healthy body when it’s properly nourished makes endocannabinoids in the right amount. I like to say the natural state of the human body is to be high all the time. I remember my brother telling me once he tried some marijuana and said, “I don’t get it, Sally. It didn’t do anything for me.” That’s because we were a family that ate butter, cream and eggs. In those foods, you have something called arachidonic acid. It’s only in animal fats. We make our natural endocannabinoids out of arachidonic acid.
For years, this nation has been avoiding animal fats more and more. Vegetable oils are substituting for animal fats. Naturally, we have a nation that’s easily addicted to something like marijuana because our bodies are not making the marijuana inside that we need. When they take marijuana, they suddenly feel normal. It’s not just good. It’s normal. They will do anything to repeat that feeling.
You’re talking about this positive feeling that comes from being well-nourished. People could even do their own little experiments. Grab a coffee and a muffin for breakfast. See how you feel. Notice your mood, your thinking and then juxtapose that with a breakfast full of healthy fats and proteins.
Bacon, eggs, peanut butter and raw milk.
You can then see how you feel and think.
Another problem that happens when people are eating this high-carb breakfast is by mid-morning, they have very low blood sugar. You cannot think when your blood is low. That’s off to the vending machine or to the kitchen for a candy bar or something like that. The cycle repeats over and over again, the blood sugar rollercoaster.
What would you say to someone who says, “Sally, this is far too simplistic? You’re mentioning food because you’re in this real food movement but it’s not that easy?”
Nothing is easy when it comes to mental health and addictions. I don’t want to make it seem easy but we could make it easier if we added nutrition to the list of therapies that you’re doing.
The very first thing you do in treating mental illnesses is to get people on good high-fat foods.
Maybe even looked at that first.
I like your idea. Keep a notebook, the typical breakfast and see how you feel at 10:00 in the morning then eat bacon and eggs and see how you feel at 10:00 in the morning.
It made a drastic difference for me. I used to teach exercise classes and would feel my blood sugar dip in the middle of the workout. I’d have to grab a power bar or anything to boost my blood sugar again. I thought, “I’m one of those people that have this issue.” When I began eating a healthier, more Wise Tradition-style breakfast, I could float until 2:00, 3:00 in the afternoon and I’d be fine. I know we have a brochure called Nutrition for Mental Health. Let’s use this as a springboard for more conversation. The first question posed in the brochure is, does our diet affect our mental and emotional health? Talk to us more about what can happen. We did talk about low blood sugar. What are some other changes that can happen to the body when we’re not well-nourished?
In fact, the very first one is low blood sugar. When you have low blood sugar, things don’t go well. You are depressed, anxious and moody. I was a low blood sugar person, a different personality when I was a teenager because I was eating sugar all the time.
You know what they call that now too. They’ll say hangry. People joke about, “I’m hangry.” You shouldn’t have to hit that state if you’re well-nourished. They’re noticing the difference between poor nutrition and mood.
The first thing we list is low blood sugar. The second is the gut-brain connection. What we have discovered about gut bacteria is so amazing. First of all, gut bacteria help regulate your hormone balance, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone balance but more importantly, gut bacteria produce manufacturer feel-good chemicals like serotonin, GABA, cholesterol hormones and all. They make these things. A lot about feeling good is being good in the gut or having good gut bacteria.
Why wouldn’t we have good gut bacteria?
For one thing, we’re not eating foods that contain good bacteria like sauerkraut, Kefir and all these Lacto-fermented foods that should be in the diet on a daily basis. We should be renewing this gut bacteria on a daily basis. Secondly, we’re eating a lot of foods that yeast loves. If we eat a lot of sugar, the candida proliferates and crowds out the good bacteria. There are certain foods that destroy gut bacteria. One of them is breakfast cereals. There was a study in Europe showing that these extruded cereals and that’s what these cereals are very bad for the gut bacteria.
What’s occurring to me is that real foods like raw milk, yogurt and some of the fermented foods you mentioned are alive. They’re teaming with bacteria that are good for us. A lot of the foods we eat are packaged and processed, which means they’re dead.
They are dead. In fact, we had Beverly Rubik look at raw milk and pasteurized milk through the dark phase microscope. She said the raw milk got a colloidal structure to it and it looks alive. In pasteurized milk, that colloidal structure is gone. It’s completely flat.
We need more living food in our lives. Thank you for enlightening us there about the gut-brain connection.
Next are thyroid disorders and mental health. If you have hyperactive or hypothyroid conditions, these definitely lead to mental health problems especially if they’re severe. It’s very important to get your thyroid working and imbalance. I love to say this. The very best food for the thyroid gland is butter. Butter contains three nutrients that the thyroid needs. One is Vitamin A. You cannot make thyroid hormones without Vitamin A.
Two is iodine and any butter produced within 60 miles of the ocean will contain nice iodine or if they’re using iodine on the teats to wash the teats. The third one is butyric acid. It’s necessary for the thyroid receptors to work. If you have a healthy colon butyric acid is being produced in the colon and absorbed. The only dietary source is butter. I’ve seen people claim that you can get butyric acid from coconut oil but that’s not the case. Butyric acid is unique to butter. That’s why it’s called butyric acid.
I feel like there is a thyroid crisis among young women. Many of them are on synthetic hormones to get that rolling.
There are 1 in 2 people in this country who have some thyroid condition.
It’s something that could affect their mental and overall health. Maybe butter could be part of the solution.
It is. We’ve been 100 years now since the demonization of butter and thyroid conditions have skyrocketed during this period.
Do you think more people are listening, though, Sally and returning to these real foods?
That’s a good question. It’s a definite minority but there are people who are listening and returning to these foods. It’s funny. I’ve had people tell me especially young women, I had to get over my sense of guilt for eating butter. I remember once I was in a restaurant, I was at my son’s college graduation. Next to me was a table with a mom. She had an overweight daughter who had ordered pancakes for breakfast. The daughter wanted some butter on the pancakes. She slapped her hand and said, “You can’t have this butter. It’ll make you fat.” It was okay for her to eat the pancakes and the sugar syrup.
It’s all upside down.
The last thing we list is a vegetarian diet and studies have shown, I’m not making this up, that vegetarians have more mental illnesses. That’s because they’re not getting certain nutrients that we get only from animal foods that are critical for mental health, starting with B12. That’s well known that B12 is important for mental health. Also, Vitamins A and D and minerals like zinc and iron, are critical for good stable, mental health.
I remember where you were on a panel and there was a debate about eating meat or not eating meat. It was you and some vegans and vegetarians. You said they were so angry. It’s in part because the diet is affecting their mental and emotional health.
A lot about feeling good is having good gut bacteria.
A known symptom of B12 deficiency is a tendency to irrational anger. When we think of someone who has good mental health, we think of somebody who is stable, doesn’t fly off the handle, handles things well, doesn’t get offended easily and that’s B12 deficiency. There is a very good explanation for why vegetarians have more mental health issues.
After 5 to 7 years, a group of them return to eating a more Wise Traditions diet, including animal products because they notice this in their mood and also in their bodies. It’s a deterioration.
The first thing that happens is they start getting a lot of cavities because the teeth are affected first. They feel weak or angry or depressed.
They have a constant need to keep eating. Unfortunately, as you said, they’re not eating the nutrient-rich foods that could help them. Sally, let’s say, I’m a regular person trying to eat the Wise Traditions way. What should I be aware of that could be affecting my mental health and may unwittingly be a part of my diet?
We’ve talked about refined sweeteners and that includes high-fructose corn syrup, agave fruit juices. They’re naked sugar. Modern vegetable oils are displacing animal fats. Animal fats contain nutrients or components that are critical for mental health, starting with arachidonic acid. This is a type of Omega 6 fatty acid that’s exclusively in animal fats. We make the cannabinoids out of them.
Vitamin A is critical for being able to plan and complete tasks. To me, that is the hallmark of good mental health that you’ve to think of something that needs to be done. You figure out a solution and carry out that solution. Whether it’s a minor thing in your kitchen or changing the world. That’s the real thing that makes you happy like good food, sex, a nice house and all these things. It’s nice but what makes people happy is an accomplishment. Vitamin A is critical for creating those mental attitudes that help you to accomplish things.
I was thinking now that some people reading to you might think, about planning, making a process and then executing. I’m tired just thinking about that.
It should be exhilarating. The things that people find stressful are wonderful challenges that we are here to meet and overcome. If you’re not well-nourished, you can’t do that.
You even become anxious and easily overwhelmed at the thought of doing such things instead of accelerated and accomplished.
That’s why I say that vegetable oils are bad because they displace the types of fats that we need to have good mental health.
Coming up, Sally offers insights about what ingredients to avoid that destabilize our mental health. The Sleep Meditation for Women podcast. Are you having trouble sleeping? Is insomnia making it impossible for you to get through your days? Is your mind racing with worry and a never-ending to-do list at night? Try a sleep meditation from the Sleep Meditation for Women Podcast to help you fall asleep and stay asleep with ease. Hundreds of guided meditations are at your fingertips so you can call me your mind, relax your body and fall asleep peacefully. Each sleep meditation is created with love for anyone who feels called to listen. They are brought to you by the Women’s Meditation Network and hosted by my friend, Katie Krimitsos.
Visit Women’sMeditationNetwork.com/sleeppodcast. Here’s to more sweet dreams.
Go to Amazon.com/optimalcarnivore and use the code WESTON10 to save 10% on all products.
MSG is a neurotoxin that can cause mental problems and all the additives, artificial dyes, flavorings and preservatives.
If we’re sourcing our food well and we know our farmer, we’re not going to have these hidden additives and preservatives in our food. I don’t even know what MSG is in. I imagine it’s a flavor enhancer that’s found in a lot of packaged and processed foods.
Yes. It’s also in skim milk. The vitamins that they add to skim milk are attached to MSG. It’s hiding in lots of places. Wheat now especially if not preparing it properly, if you are sensitive to gluten, can cause some mental problems. Soy depresses thyroid function and is an endocrine disruptor. You have the potential for damaging mental health. Aspartame, artificial sweeteners and genetically modified organisms as well because they upset the gut flora. They’re designed to do that.
How many of our foods are GMOs?
Corn and soy are the two major sources of Genetically Modified Organisms. Another one is most cheese because they use genetically modified bacteria to make the rennet for the cheese.
I hadn’t heard this. We thought cheese was such a perfect food.
It is if you’re using the right ingredients. You want cheese with animal rennet because that’s the natural rennet. Surprisingly, wheat is not genetically modified. I’m not sure why they never did genetically modify wheat. Unfortunately, wheat is sprayed with Roundup before harvest as a desiccant. The main source of Roundup in the diet is wheat.
Irrational anger is a sign of low cholesterol.
We’re getting this overload of glyphosate that is impairing our functions. Every time we bite into a piece of bread.
If it’s not organic. For your wheat products, you want organic sourdough so it doesn’t contain Roundup and sourdough so that the gluten and all the irritating components have been neutralized by the processing and the preparation techniques.
Stephanie Seneff says that glyphosate comes into our system and takes the place of glycine in the body.
I’m so glad you brought this up because we should have something in here about glycine. Glycine is the chief amino acid in bone broth. Glycine regulates dopamine levels. Dopamine is this key neurotransmitter. When people get addicted to things, they do so because they normally have low dopamine and the alcohol or the sex or the drug or whatever raises dopamine. It’s the same with gambling or whatever. They want that dopamine high.
The way to make sure that your dopamine is always at the right level is to have broth every day in soups or a mug of broth or whatever. If your dopamine is too low, it’s hard to get going and get up in the morning, broth will raise it. If your dopamine is too high and you’re hyper enthusiastic all the time, the broth will bring it down to the right level.
I remember you told me that years ago and have experienced it personally. I used to have nervous energy and now I simply have energy. I’m thankful for that. Honestly, Sally, I look around and see a lot of my friends who are in their twenties. They are fatigued, anxious and have got that low dopamine that you’re describing. Unfortunately, they get on this rollercoaster of pumping in the caffeine through the coffee.
Alcohol or whatever. They’re looking for the dopamine high. Sugar, by the way, will temporarily raise dopamine.
No wonder people associate it with that good feeling but they can get that good stable feeling through broth that has the glycine that we need.
All these things that almost tend to be criticized by people in this field like dopamine, serotonin and cannabinoids and everything. We’re supposed to make those in our body and have hormones that regulate them so it doesn’t get too high or too low. That’s what the right food does.
I’m glad we’re addressing this because we are on this mental health track. Everyone’s coming at it from a different but I appreciate this nutrition emphasis.
On the other side of the flyer that we’re looking at, we list nutrient deficiencies. There are some B vitamins, Vitamins A and D, Vitamin C, zinc and cholesterol because so many of these hormones are made of cholesterol and then glycine, which is in the broth. One of the things that we emphasize here is that cholesterol-lowering drugs are the pathway to depression and anger. Irrational anger is a sign of low cholesterol.
They’re trying to get people’s cholesterol way too low. Cholesterol is something that rises gradually and naturally with age because cholesterol protects us against cancer and protects our brains. The idea of reducing someone’s cholesterol who’s 60 years old to 200 is folly. They need their cholesterol to be a little higher.
Let’s talk about the vitamin deficiencies you were mentioning, how can we correct them? We’ve already talked about how you can get Vitamin A and D.
These are from organ meats and fats. A very good source of B vitamins is fermented foods because they’re all increased when you make sauerkraut or do sourdough bread.
I didn’t know that. I always thought of B-vitamins is coming from the liver.
The liver is a wonderful source of riboflavin. We don’t get that from any other foods. Vitamin C, of course and Americans get far more Vitamin C than our ancestors did because we do have fresh fruits and vegetables available. A lot of people find that they’ve helped with a natural Vitamin C supplement. Zinc is in meat and shellfish. Those are the two main sources.
I have a little story to tell you about that. It’s found in oysters. I know your husband loves oysters. My father eats oysters regularly. I’m telling you, Sally, like Jeffrey, he’s spry and strong alert. My father has a lot going for him. I attribute it in part to the amount he eats oysters.
For those who don’t like oysters, you can now get desiccated oysters, which I’m taking every day because the oyster is not something that appeals to me.
It doesn’t appeal to everyone, that’s for sure.
The cholesterol, which is only in organ meats, animal fats, animal foods and the glycine, which we get from bone broth. Isn’t it interesting that all of these nutrients that support mental health are the nutrients that we emphasize in the Wise Traditions diet?
It is interesting. No wonder we’re so stable, happy and healthy.
Anyone who comes to our conferences can see how fun the people are and having a good time but alert, interested, pay attention and so forth.
Mental illness is complex. It involves the soul and the spirit.
There are environmental factors that might also affect our mental health. I’m not trying to make it like everyone who eats this way is going to be stable. There may be other factors that could impinge on their health. Even relationship issues.
We’re not trying to make this a one-factor thing. Mental illness is complex. It involves the soul and the spirit. It has to do with your surroundings, relationships and so forth. A healthy person with good mental health can observe these things and take the necessary steps to make changes.
We’re giving them that foundation or offering the suggestion that food may be an important place to start to regain their mental health and stability. I’m so glad we had this conversation, Sally.
Thank you, Hilda. Thanks for all you do. I think this idea of a mental health series is excellent. It’s very good.
Our guest was Sally Fallon Morrell, the President of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Check out her blog at NourishingTraditions.com. You can find me at HolisticHilda.com. I invite you as always to rate and review the show on Apple Podcasts but I also want to tell you, there’s a way to communicate with me directly. Go to the podcast page on our website, WestonAPrice.org, click on the About the Show drop-down and record your 2 to 3-minute testimonial of how the Weston A. Price Foundation or the Wise Traditions Diet has changed your life. Time is running out to do this so please submit it soon. I might use it in an upcoming show and thank you in advance. Thanks for reading, my friend. Stay well. Hasta Pronto.
- Nourishing Traditions
- Women’s Meditation Network
- Apple Podcasts – Wise Traditions
- About the Show