At any given moment our body is undergoing millions and millions of microchemical reactions. Breathing, maintaining your metabolism, cognition, etc. Hell! Even just reading this sentence requires vast amounts of coordinated activity at the microscopic level. All of these tasks require substantial amounts of energy to continue to take place! Everything system in our body needs fuel and resources to carry out these functions. As you may have already concluded, many of these things come from the foods we eat!
Hippocrates, who many consider to be the father of modern medicine, once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” (Smith, 2004). As we have previously stated, the mind and body are connected. The foods we put into our bodies are incorporated into our cellular processes and play a large role in our health. Much of the recent literature in the neuroscience community has focused on the gut microbiome and its connection to our nervous system.
The enteric nervous system is a subsection of our neural system that deals with gastrointestinal function. Many of these nerves allow for communication between your gut and your brain in both directions. Foods that stimulate inflammation of the gut contribute to the signals sent to the brain. In-fact, these inflammatory signals are thought to be able to contribute to neurodegeneration as we age (Kulkarni et al., 2018; Carrabotti et al., 2015)!
I tell you these things, not to scare you, but to inform you. When you eat healthier, you feel better. We have all experienced the malaise that comes with a fast food burger, and the burst of energy we feel when we eat fruits and vegetables. There are many ways to eat healthy that work for different people. No individual meals are going to cause long-term damage, but a chronically poor diet can. This is why it is so important that we hold our governing bodies responsible for the absolute garbage that they allow many fast-food chains and grocery store products to contain.
In our fight for a more equitable society we must strive for education on healthy dietary practices. More importantly we must provide affordable access to healthy, nutritious food for all people!