You Are What You Eat & How That Impacts Gut Health, Mental Health, & Mood
“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.”
– Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, French epicure, and gastronome
We’ve all heard the saying ‘you are what you eat,’ right?
But have you stopped to think about what it really, truly means?
If you take a look at the big picture you will see that in its essence eating and nutrition connect us to our environment and our world.
Everything you put in your mouth and in your belly becomes digested and assimilated into every single one of the trillions of cells in your body.
Food is either supportive of your energy levels, mental clarity, well-being, creativity, and good health or it sabotages these things.
Your food choices are critical.
Healthy eating is an act of self-love and self-nurturing.
Good food choices create positive ripples into other areas of your life.
Constantly choosing junk food over whole foods robs you of your vital energy and severely compromises your digestion and gut health.
And as the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates said:
“All disease begins in the gut.”
Gut health is also linked to mental health and mood according to studies.
Did you know that approximately 80% of your immune function is found in your gut?
With every meal and every bite, whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re impacting your overall health and your body’s ability to fight disease.
A predominantly healthy diet and choosing healthy foods 60-80% of the time are your best preventative health care strategies.
You aren’t just what you eat – you’re also what they ate, too:
“Every time you eat or drink you are either… Feeding disease or fighting it.”
– Heather Morgan, Nutrition Expert
As mentioned, every single one of the trillions of cells in your body is created from the micro and macronutrients from the different food groups you eat.
Functional nutrition practitioner Dave Hompes explains it like this:
“Once eaten, your food is chopped up by acid and enzymes in your gut; you absorb chains of molecules or atoms through your gut wall and they enter your body.
Your body gauges what it needs to do with these molecules and atoms.
It builds, breaks down, twists, and rearranges them so they literally become your cells, tissues, glands, organs, and body systems.
Food, water, (and air/oxygen) are literally the building blocks of what you see in the mirror.
You literally are what you eat…
What you put in your mouth becomes you…
Ultimately, whatever you put on your plate, bowl, dish, glass, cup, and mug is going to become the cells, tissues, glands, organs, and systems in the body.
If you put garbage in, you’re going to get garbage out.
If you put high-quality ingredients in, you’re going to have a high-quality body.”
And here’s the other thing – you aren’t just what you eat.
You’re also when you eat, how you eat, and what they ate.
The quality of the food you ingest becomes the quality of the health of your cells.
“What they ate” also refers to the meats, poultry, and fish you consume.
If you consume farmed fish, grain-fed commercially raised cattle, and hormone-injected chicken that spends its entire life in a dark cage, your body will reflect their low-quality state of life.
Their poor nutrition and living conditions will be reflected in their own cells, which you will eventually end up consuming, which means they will eventually become a part of you too.
A study done on Australian cattle to compare grass-fed meat quality vs. grain-fed meat quality found that:
“The longer the animals were fed grains, the lower the quality of the meat. Grain feeding significantly reduces the omega-3 and CLA (healthy fatty acids) content of meat… The longer an animal is fed grains, the lower the nutrient content of the meat.” (1)
The same principle can also apply to organic vs. conventional produce.
The quality of the soil will differ greatly.
The presence or absence of chemicals and pesticides will also impact your cells too.
The impact of what you eat on your gut bugs & gut health:
What you eat also becomes food for your gut bugs (microbiome).
And since you and your gut bugs are so interconnected and interdependent, their health equals your health.
A crappy diet consisting of refined sugar and processed carbs and other chemical-laden food will lead to an imbalance in your gut.
Sugar is considered the #1 public enemy of your gut bugs.
It creates inflammation and gut imbalance by helping the bad bugs multiply while keeping the good bugs from multiplying.
As women’s health expert and author Dr. Christiane Northrup says:
“Your gut microbiome responds to what you feed it.
When you regularly eat a variety of healthy, non-processed foods, your microbiome becomes programmed to work for you…
Refined carbohydrates, sugar, and processed foods get absorbed quickly into your small intestine without any help from your microbes.
That means your gut microbes stay hungry so they begin snacking on the cells that line your intestines, causing what we call Leaky Gut.
Your intestinal lining is meant to be a strong barrier between your gut and the rest of your body.
When your intestinal wall becomes leaky, particles of food enter your bloodstream, causing your immune system to attack them, and ultimately your own tissues.
This leads to inflammation and a whole cascade of conditions, including autoimmunity.
Sugar also feeds organisms like candida Albicans, which also attacks your intestinal wall and can lead to a systemic candida infection.” (2)