Feb. 2, 2023

Nourishing Your Mind: The Intersection of Mental Health and Nutrition

Join us on Think Unbroken Podcast, where we explore the crucial connection between mental health and nutrition. Our guests, Brian Keane, Amber Shaw, and Uma Naidoo,..
See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/nourishing-your-mind-the-intersection-of-mental-health-and-nutrition/#show-notes

Join us on Think Unbroken Podcast, where we explore the crucial connection between mental health and nutrition. Our guests, Brian Keane, Amber Shaw, and Uma Naidoo, will dive into the latest research and share their expert insights on how proper nutrition can improve our mental wellness. 

Discover how to nourish your mind and body for optimal health, and learn practical tips for integrating nutritious habits into your daily routine. Don't miss this informative and inspiring episode of Nourishing Your Mind!

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Michael: What I'm curious about here Briane is for people listening because I do believe that there is a correlation between mental health and physical health, I think they're hand in hand people argue say maybe not, I'm a proponent that you can't have one without the other, so if you're in this place and you're like, man my life as a disaster from the  I’m depressed, I’m anxious, I don't wanna do this, I don't want fuck to five am club like where do you really like start in this?

Brian: You start with small changes and realize that ordinary things done consistently well lead to extraordinary results over time and it's not about making all these massive changes and to keep the analogy of weight loss here because think weight loss it goes across everything it's entrepreneurship, it can be you know your trauma, it's the same kind of idea in terms of the principles of success from my experience anyway. You're breaking it down into what's the small chains that I can do now, that's gonna inevitably lead to the result that I want and you'd stick to it no matter what, like it can be something as simple Michael as right, I'm not gonna take the elevator, I'm not gonna take the escalator, I'm not gonna take the lift at work anymore, I'm gonna take the stairs that's consistent, regardless of how small that change is you have a weight loss goal, you made this one change, you know there's a lift and an escalator and an elevator that you could take to your fifth floor or six floor in your office but you wanna take the stairs, that's a non-negotiable, you've set you're non-negotiable, I’m doing it regardless of how I feel.

One of my mentors always tell me that, successful people do what they have to do regardless of how they feel. You said it as a non-negotiable and that's what you do consistently over time. It's the same with food changes you know a big mistake people make, if you're a hundred pounds you don't need to make massive just to lose weight and some people will go on a mad diet or they'll change all of their meals, in all of their food and like fuck, if you've got a hundred pounds to lose, I'm like slightly eating less calories are going to basic calories in calories for the majority of people. So, one girl that I was working with back when I was a one to one trainer before I moved online and she was a hundred and twenty pounds overweight and she was eating you know seven rays bearer every single night and I was like, okay, I just want you to eat five, I was like don’t eat seven, I was think eat five that's I was like, keep everything in the same I was like and she's was like but no, I was like, I'm eating fight bears, I was like oh, just eat five Myers best, I was like eat your normal food, keep doing what you're doing but don't eat seven, eat five and then after a month we dropped it to four and after a month half six weeks we dropped it to three eventually brought down that she was just eating one or two and she lost a lot of weights because that was still elicit in calorie death a deficit for her. You know, she didn't even work out the gym our whole first workout, was we would up and down the stairs in the gym and took an hour for her to go up and down the stairs twice, that was the entire workout for her and we were able to get her way down. I remember she sent me a photo, so one of my favorite things of all time when she went into an airplane and into a plane I was able to put on the normal seat she's like, this is the first time I didn't have to buy treats and I was like that's amazing because she was so big she obviously he had to use the seat belt from the two seats and she was able to put on the normal strap and buy one each and I was like that amazing another course it's one of the best things you can get back from somebody and be like you've impacted my life in this way, and it's those things. People will make too many big changes too soon in whatever it is they're doing and that's a recipe for failure like you're gonna fall off like nobody can change their entire life over the space for week and expect to stick to us fucking I consider myself quite disciplined and I can't do it you know and I think a lot of people Michael you probably in the same bracket, try make way too many changes too soon the recipe for failure. So, set yourself up on the front end for success even if that's a small win that you consistently do because it's non-negotiable enough to get you up and running and then you build on that another small change is like, if you're trying to lose weight or build more or lose body fat you haven't eaten that well. I'm not gonna changing one of your main meals, I'm like change your breakfast make a healthy breakfast choice maybe some scrambled egg, you know, some poached egg, gonna whole grain, eat whatever you want for lunch, your normal food, eat whatever you want for dinner and just for the next fourteen days, for the next twenty-one days you making a good food choice at breakfast, you've made one meal choice that's gonna have a positive impact on the rest of your day. And then in three weeks’ time you look at your lunch, you start making a healthier food choice at lunch and then for three weeks you just do breakfast and lunch, whatever you want for dinner have whatever you want for snacks and then in another three weeks another four weeks you look at your dinner. And then over the space of three months even less in some cases you've gone from eating whatever you want not making any food conscious food choices to eating a good quality breakfast, a good quality lunch and a good quality dinner so you now probably feeling more energized, probably have an increased metabolic rate, so you're probably burning more calories. So, you're moving more throughout today because energy levels are up, your sleep is probably improved, your sex is potentially improved, hormones are more balanced because you're not in all the artificial foods that you were raging before and over three months you've completely changed your diet but people wanna do it overnight and that's a mistake because it just doesn't help based your starting point. So, don't go from zero to ten, go from zero to one and then one to two and build from there.



Michael: One of the things I want to talk about and actually go a little bit deeper here with cuz I think it's important. I don't actually agree with you about something and that's that people know what to eat. And the reason why I say that is because (a) there's so much misinformation in nutrition like, you know, this, you go look at the back of a box, people may think that's healthy, right? Or fast food or whatever. Can you give us just some baseline pointers about (a) what is the difference between like healthy food and bad foods? And again, this is objective to everyone, so let's be clear, but also why you said, you know, maybe packaged foods, aren't the way that you should go.

Amber: Yeah, of course. And I think what I meant by, you know, and I do think you're right, there are like kind of the healthy foods in the box that can actually be like, just as bad for you. But I think kind of on a broader scale, what I was talking about is I think most people know that like an Apple's gonna be better for you than a box of borios. Right? Like, I think that those extremes, but you're right, there is a gray area that can be very confusing to people be particularly because the way that these food companies’ market and all of that stuff. So, you know, the thing is that just to kind of, you know, explain why I say that. When it comes to nutrition, right?

Nutrition really can be very simple. We have just over complicated it, we very much over complicated when I talk about getting more real food into your diet, I'm really talking about the perimeter of the grocery store. Right. So, if you'll notice pretty much every grocery store is set up the same way, it's at the perimeter of the grocery store, not sneaking through those inner aisles, where you're gonna find the fresh foods are gonna be around the outer perimeters of the store. And the reason why stuff in a box and a package can be not only like harmful for your health, but also like if you have some weight goals, why it can just kind of derail you and you don't even realize it is because on the extreme, of course, you've got the stuff that's like loaded with chemicals that can be like big hormone disruptors for your body and loaded with the like saturated fats, which are bad for your heart. And you've got stuff, you know, that's like loaded with sugar which can affect your hormones as well and you know, the way that you store fat, and cause inflammation in the body, basically like there's kind of those extremes with those are again, like maybe the things that you might think like, oh, okay, bag of Doritos like that might not be great, but there's also kind of this whole other area of foods in a boxer package that market themselves as being healthy, but there's still loaded with like fake sugars. Right? They're still loaded stuff or they could still be high end sugars, they could still have lots of chemicals and stuff in them.

So, when I teach nutrition, I'm not unrealistic that like, you're never gonna eat anything out of a box or a package like that's ridiculous, I do. But it's just becoming aware of what you're putting into your body. Right? So, kind of my rule of thumb is if I go to the grocery store and I flip something over and I'm looking at the label and I can't pronounce what pretty much, like what's in the ingredients, I don't buy it. There's enough options out there right now but you just have to look, you have to know what you're looking for and that's what I'm gonna teach you is that you just, you wanna flip it over and look at the ingredients first and you just really ideally wanna go for something in a box or package if you can't find it like fresh or you need something that's fast and on the go and a lot of people are busy. You just want to look at as few as ingredients as possible and you want them to be real food, right? So you really try, want to try and stay away from stuff that has a lot of chemical names in it, if you're wondering, you heard me say a second ago, like fake sugars and you're like, I don't even know if I'd know how to spot that. Really any of those ending OSE like sucralose dextrose, like any of those, like they could mean sugar, not necessarily fake sugar, some of them are fake sugars and some of them are just another word for sugar, but again, we wanna be mindful of things with extra sugar in them because sugar can bring a whole host of problems for the body, not only is it can be extra calories, so that can increase your weight, but also again, inflammation in the body, it can disrupt your gut health. You know, my whole mission is really to when I'm empowering women and men too about, you know, not dieting anymore, it's also though to educate you on the food that you're putting into your body because especially as we age, we're just not in a place anymore where we can just keep looking at food as like calories and calories out. If we wanna live a long, healthy life, we need to get our head outta the sand and start looking at our food as medicine and start looking at actually, what are we putting in our bodies because that's super, super important. So, I think if you are somebody that's like, you know, I wanna start eating healthy, but just don't know, like if you're listening to this, I just don't know where to start, I would tell you honest to God, just start by shopping the perimeters of the store. See if you can find what you need around the perimeters of the store. Now, when you go into the center aisles, the snake aisles I always say, I just want you to start being aware. I train my ladies how to be label ninjas, okay. Because you're gonna be surprised, an example I always like to give is like, even there's hidden sugars, even in like bread, so, you know, Dave's killer bread that's one everybody loves. It's got five grams of added sugar in every slice and you might wonder like, well, was that a lot? I don't know. Is that a lot? Well, just to give you a frame of reference.

Women, according to the American heart association, women really shouldn't have more than like 25 grams of added sugar in your day. So, if you're eating a sandwich on Dave's killer bread and it's got five grams of sugar and each slice, well, that's almost half your sugar intake. Right. So, I think that's one of the big things I think, with what you talked about in the beginning of the show about why we're in such like an epidemic of like overweight people and a lot of it does have to do so much of the added sugars in our food. So, if you could do anything today, just one thing, if you're listening to this and when I talk about those small incremental changes, if you could do just one thing to really take control of your health, it would be just to start paying attention to the sugar that you're putting in your body and I'm not just talking about the cookies and the cakes and all that. I want you to start paying attention to the labels, and I want you to start just looking at the added sugars because you will notice, you'll start sleeping better, your energy will be better, your skin will be clear, you have less bloat. You'll probably start to notice over time, too, that you start to lose some weight if that's your goal, by just doing that one thing.

Michael: It's really important too. I mean, even myself, having a lot of education and nutrition over the years. You know, I caught myself, I found this protein shake that I love and I was like, oh, it's got a little bit of dextro in it. Fine. Not a big deal. And then I installed, this is the language I'm gonna use, I installed a continuous glucose monitor in myself and I was like, holy crap, this thing, fucking spikes my glucose so much, and it's supposed to be healthy for you.

So, I'm right there with you and your sugar. When you measure that you look at the insulin resistance happening in the world and look, yes, I'm not a doctor, so let me be very clear about that. I'm just saying from my own biohacking and looking what happens, you know,when I've been really cognizant about the packaged foods, about watching the sugars, I feel better, I sleep better, my gut health is better, my relationships are better, business is better. There's one of my friends, Gary Brecka, who runs streamlined health system, which is a genius. He says, sugar is actually the root of all evil.

Amber: Not seriously. Wait. So, I'm dying to know the glucose monitor that you do was it levels or was it a different one?

Michael: Yeah, it's a different one. I mean, there's like seven different companies out here who are doing it right now. And I had a friend recommend one to me and I just popped it in there.

Amber: Yeah. So, I'm actually in the middle right now. The company levels is when they're doing like, kind of trials right now, so I got in on their trial, I'm actually in the middle of it too, because it is just crazy. You know, I think that when it comes to nutrition, like I totally agree. Sugar really is with you like your friends that it's the root of all evil because it affects your hormones, your insulin, and some resistance, it affects your metabolism. Like there's so much to it, this whole archaic way of thinking, which is why I think so many people are stuck in the diet world anyways, of just like, oh, it's only calories in and calories out, it doesn't matter what you eat, it's just calories in calories out. Yes. Calories matter, that's science like you can't be overeating and expect to lose weight. However, there's so much more to the story. So anyways, I'm super passionate about that, but I agree, sugar it's the root of all evil.



Michael: I wanna first start with kind of the correlation between the foods that we are consuming and the detrimental potential ramifications of those foods. And if there are certain foods like processed foods, like sugars, like substitutes that can lead to depression, anxiety, or any other ramifications that maybe we're just not aware of and what we should be paying attention to?

Dr. Naidoo: Right. So, you know, there are different nuances in the different mental health conditions, but there are some general things that I think people should know. The thing though, is most people associate that with their waistline or weight gain or family history of type two diabetes, they don't link it to their mental health and herein is really the power of nutritional psychiatry. It's those highly processed, ultra-processed, junk foods, processed foods fast, seed oils, which process vegetable oils and seed oils, which many fast-food restaurants use because it's cheaper. And then, you know, the Fructose corn syrup is, which is also in many savory foods you don't even realize it. So, it's not just a sugary candy or something that has sugar, it's also other foods, artificial sweetness is another big one. And so, you know, the wrong types of fats, the kind of shelf, stable baked goods that have those fats that are unhealthy for our body. Many of those things, people think if I do that, if I eat that I'm gonna gain weight, but they also affect your mental health.

Here's a quick one. You know, if you're eating lunch meats for maybe a what you think is a healthy lunch meat, but it contains nitrates that actually drives depression. If you are thinking, oh, you know, Dr. Naidoo who talked about eating yogurt, because yogurt has actually talked about blueberries and she talked about yogurt, I'm gonna get a blueberry yogurt. Well, a fruited yogurt, a half cup can have up to eight teaspoons of sugar in it. So, it's not that blueberries or yogurt are not healthy, it's that the fruited yogurts and the way in which they are kind of brought forward through advertising people think, oh, that's the great option. But the added sugar really knocks away the positive benefit. So, have the plain yogurt, if you consume dairy and have the blueberries with it, but don't buy the fruited kind. Those are just some simple things that, you know, we don't realize sometimes when we shopping or buying our food. 

Michael: What is happening as the body is metabolizing sugar that can lead to depression or anxiety, or with nitrates leading to increased levels of depression. Like what is actually happening from a physiological perspective?

Dr. Naidoo: Yeah. So, one of the mechanisms, a few different mechanisms that are being explored and are being at evolving as we understand nutritional psychiatry, but one of them is oxidative stress and inflammation. Inflammation in the body is really being seen as underlying conditions like depression, anxiety, and even cognitive disorders. So, if you think back to just what we are eating, when we are eating an unhealthy meal, the food is processed the gut and brain are connected. So, our digestive tract, we started, we swallowed, it starts to interact with our gut goes to our stomach, that also involves this interaction with the gut microbes. When you are healthier foods, those breakdown products of digestion also include positive substances for your body and for your brain, one of those is short chain fatty acids. But when you're eating the kind of just the you're always in the fast-food lane and eating the foods that we know are unhealthy. The breakdown products are more toxic to the body and to those microbes and they are toxic metabolites that they interact with the bad microbes in the gut. Right. Because they're good microbes and bad microbes. Good microbes are there to cheer on, help us with many bodily functions from sleep and circadian rhythm, which is our internal bottom body clock, hormones, vitamin production, immunity, many things, including mental health. So, when they are not being nurtured, but their bad neighbors are being nurtured those bad microbes take over time and sets up for gut inflammation. Gut inflammation, because there's a single cell layer lining the gut, is easily disrupted and gut got information therefore, through the loop and through that system being connected can lead to brain information.

So, it really starts there one of the mechanisms, and I use that example because it touches the oxidative stress, it touches the inflammation than your information. And because we are eating chewing and swallowing our food, it's an easier mechanism to understand.

Michael UnbrokenProfile Photo

Michael Unbroken


Michael is an entrepreneur, best-selling author, speaker, coach, and advocate for adult survivors of childhood trauma.

Brian KeaneProfile Photo

Brian Keane

Author, Online Personal Trainer, Business Coach

Brian Keane, known as Brian Keane Fitness online is a Reps qualified Level 3 Personal Trainer, certified Strength and Conditioning Coach and Sports Nutritionist.

Over the past seven years, he has gone from working full time as primary school teacher to one of Ireland’s leading thought leaders on all things health, fitness and nutrition.

He has had mainstream features everywhere from the UK and Irish Daily Mail, Star and Mirror to Men’s and Women’s Health Magazine.

On top of his ever growing social media platforms which have a combined total of well over a quarter of a million followers, he also hosts one of Ireland and the UK’s top health podcast which is regularly featured #1 on the iTunes Health Charts.

Brian’s online fitness programs have over a thousand graduates every single year. In his programs, he helps people reach their weight loss, fitness or body composition goal by giving them sustainable fitness programs alongside changing their entire mindset when it comes to food. Brian isn’t a calories in, calories out nutritional coach, nor is he a low carb, vegan or paleo advocate. His philosophy is all about finding a nutritional plan that works for you as an individual and showing that your mindset around nutrition is more important than the actual diet plan you are on.

In the summer of 2017, Brian published his first book The Fitness Mindset which spent 16 weeks on the Amazon best seller list. In December 2019, he published his second best selling book Rewire Your Mindset

Over the past seven years, Brian has become one of the most recognised faces in the Irish health and fitness industry. He has spoken at major wellness events such as Wellfest and was a Keynote speaker at Google HQ in Dublin for their 2018 wellness event.

Damon BurtonProfile Photo

Damon Burton

SEO Consultant

Damon is a Forbes contributor and an Amazon best-selling SEO book author that helps you show up higher on Google… without paying for ads.

He is husband and father of three has been featured on Entrepreneur, BuzzFeed, USA Weekly, spoken at conferences, and has optimized websites for INC5000 companies, NBA teams, and businesses featured on Shark Tank.

Having started his business right before the 2008 recession, Damon is familiar with navigating and growing a business through times like today. Never before has there been so many people needing something to focus their attention on… AND the time to do it.

Uma Naidoo, MDProfile Photo

Uma Naidoo, MD

Psychiatrist, Nutrition Expert, Chef

Dr. Uma Naidoo is a board-certified Harvard-trained psychiatrist, professional chef, nutrition specialist, and author of This is Your Brain on Food. She is the founding director of the only academic clinic in Nutritional Psychiatry and Director of Nutritional and Metabolic Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital(MGH), Harvard Medical School. Her work sits at the intersection of mental health, nutrition, and culinary arts and provides a unique integrative, functional, and holistic treatment option. Dr. Uma has appeared as a mental health and nutrition expert on Live with Kelly & Ryan, Today Show, 700 Club, and featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Shape, Parade, Boston Globe, Fast Company, AARP, and more.