Another reason why eating green leafy vegetables helps us to be healthier and happier #CoQ10

I have shared this 6 minute video before. I want to share it again because the second half is amazing.

As Dr Gregor says, “It blew my mind.”

It really is amazing. The main message is scientists have recently discovered a way in which eating green leaves and then going out in the sunshine is incredibly good for us.

Why have so few people watched this? I suggest you skip the first part about faeces in slaughter houses and start watching/listening from 2 minutes 0 seconds.

An Optimum Diet for Mood Stability and Long-Term Good Health #notjustbipolar

Real Food: The Best Diet – Andrew Weil, M.D. explains what to eat and drink more and less of:

(This talk is largely about USA diet. USA has the highest incidence of bipolar and many other modern disorders. Elsewhere in the world we need to learn from America’s mistakes.)

 

Can there really be an optimum diet?

It perhaps depends on what we mean by optimum (or maybe it is optimal?). If optimum diet means the best diet we can work out for ourselves, and a diet we can stick with, to keep us healthy then, yes, it just takes a while to figure out what is good for us.

Why did I start searching for my optimum diet?

Stress caused indigestion, such that I could not sleep and this led to a psychiatric admission where I was heavily sedated, and started to rapidly gain weight. I reacted badly to some of the newer sedative drugs and was diagnosed as bipolar. Eventually coming off the drugs I then had gut pains almost every night. I had to work out what was causing these pains. It took me years to find most of what works and does not work for me. Even with my current optimum diet my quest continues as there is always room for improvement.

It is all about balance

What has worked for me is finding out more about our daily needs for moisture, protein, fat, carbohydrate and fibre.  That makes five ‘macro-nutrients’ to be balanced. There are plenty of micro-nutrients#1 to be considered too, just that I have found that getting the five macro-nutrients in about the right proportions at each meal time to be life changing.

Modern myths were the biggest challenge to overcome

  • I was once told, “eating fat makes us fat”. It sounded so believable. It is so untrue. What I was eating that was putting weight on was a lot of carbohydrate, and the same was true for every person I knew who was getting fatter. We were all addicted to carbs and we were cutting back on fat. It wasn’t working.
  • I came to believe that “eating lots of protein is a good way to get slimmer”. This is half-true. Protein is more slowly digested than carbohydrate and usually makes us feel fuller for longer. Changing to a high protein/low carb diet is slimming. However, it is rarely a good long-term plan, as high protein diets are often not high enough in fat. On high protein I lost 40 pounds in weight but gradually felt weaker and was not sleeping well. See point 7 that I have just added below – 25th August 2016.
  • I was told that “fibre does not provide any energy and so is slimming”. Yes, fibre can help with slimming, however gut bacteria can partially digest some fibre for us, giving us extra energy. This turns out to be a good thing for moods as this energy is released gradually and helps our guts to work better.
  • I believed, “fruit is slimming”. If you look around (in UK) you may well notice that most over-weight people are eating lots of fruit and very little of green vegetables. Fruit is high in the fruit sugar, fructose. Unlike glucose (the main ‘vegetable sugar’), fructose is not used as energy by the muscles but can be readily turned into body fat by the liver. Fruit may be good, just rarely as good as salad and vegetables.

Balance

When we get past the myths we come back to looking for balance. Here is some good information#2 that works for me:

1)      Proper meals need to have a good percentage of both protein and fat as once digested these can travel through the blood together as lipoproteins, to allow the right fats to be delivered to the right parts of the body and brain to allow repairs. This seems to help a lot with steadying mood.

2)      Most of us are not getting enough good quality fat and are often short of fats known as omega-3 and MCFAs.

3)      It is close to impossible to have fried foods not containing damaged fats, so my current optimum diet is one with no fried foods.

4)      The brain needs glucose, so although we can live with almost no carbohydrates, this is likely to lead to misery. I can get enough glucose by digesting vegetables without needing to eat grain/cereal every day.

5)      There are many types of fibre, so eating a range of vegetables and just a little fruit every day helps with steadier digestion, which in turns helps us to have more of the moods we want to be having.

6)      There can be no set amount of water to go with our diet. Learning to be guided by thirst and drinking as soon as I start to get thirsty works for me. Carrying a bottle of water on all but the most local journeys makes a lot of sense.

7)      It is 2 years since I published this article (16th July 2014) and reading it through today (25th August 2016) the only thing I want to add is: It is so easy to eat too much protein. If you have always eaten meat and fish it takes a while to get used to eating a little less protein. I believe it does help for long-term health and mood stability. For me, a diet with only about 15% protein and close to 50% healthy fats (including; avocado, nuts, seeds, olives and butter) seems to be helping my liver and kidneys to heal after all those years on prescription drugs and lithium.  

From disorder to order

Eliminating the disorder part of bipolar is likely to require dietary changes. For me the most outstanding results have come from increasing#3 my variety of fat sources and ensuring every meal has a good content of healthy fats. It was the extra fats working with the protein in each meal that allowed my brain and body to heal and allows me to go longer between meals. Balanced meals help us to avoid slumps in energy and periods of despondency.  This approach continues to work for me.

Links:

#1 I will be writing more about micro-nutrients and how these link to common modern disorders.

#2 I have written about or am writing about these aspect of balancing diet and mood. Contact me if you would like to learn more now.

#3 Overall I am only eating a bit more fat as I cut out fried foods. Eating more fat and being more active go together. If we eat more fat then we are going to need to walk more. When I do eat more fat I find it easier to be doing more exercise while being less tired. I will write more about this later.

Roger Smith – www.rethinkingbipolar.com – article 14th July 2014

Nutrition and Cancer – Dr Gary Fettke #Fettke

Nutrition and Cancer – what has this got to do with bipolar?

Nutrition and Cancer 2016-06-11

Once anyone has one diagnosis they seem to be prone to a whole lot more.

bipolar diagnosis overlaps other diagnoses

There has to be a connection.

I have worked with people with bipolar disorder for 16 years and have noticed a worrying trend. Not only are my friends with bipolar being diagnosed with diabetes and all the usually chronic conditions that go with taking multiple psychiatric drugs for decades, but now they are coming down with cancer too.

The difference between those who are getting better (by this I simply mean, managing on minimum medication and not getting any fresh diagnoses) and those who are getting sicker and dying young is what we are eating and drinking.

The name of a disorder hardly matters when it comes to prevention, management or potential cures.  We have to make better food and drink choices in order to minimise our need for modern medicine. Dr Gary Fettke is talking sense, so please click on the image to hear him speak and to see the slides, in which he condenses many of the key points about avoiding cancer (running time = 23 minutes),

These key points apply whatever illness we want to avoid and that includes avoiding being labelled as having bipolar disorder.

I am going to add a link here to a longer video of Dr Gary Fettke called, ‘Fructose and Fat – Fact or Fashion’ – Part 1 – The Problem

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVlPcl1pCj0#t=272.9878809

(A lot of experts are not agreeing with Dr Fettke about how much fruit is too much but most of what he is saying, such as, most people needing more vegetables and less processed food, is accepted by every nutritionist.)

 

How best to avoid heart attack – Interview with Dr. Aseem Malhotra on mercola.com

This British cardiologist, Dr. Aseem Malhotra, really knows his stuff.

If you are short of time just listen to the second half of this 19m 20s minute interview – from 9m 30s onward.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/06/05/saturated-fat-heart-disease-risk.aspx

Clearly this is not just for those diagnosed as bipolar. There again, if you are on any kind of prescribed drug listen near the end as the doctor talks about how he defines unacceptable side-effects.

Food and Mood – No wonder USA has had bigger health troubles than UK!

On Mercola.com today…

“FDA to Redefine ‘Healthy’ Foods

  • According to FDA rules, food can only be marketed as healthy if it meets certain nutritional criteria. Snack foods cannot contain more than 3 grams of total fat per serving, and only 1 gram of that can be saturated fat
  • FDA rules do not take sugar into account, which means Pop-Tarts and Frosted Flakes qualify as “healthy,” but salmon and raw nuts do not because of their fat content
  • The FDA has announced it will reevaluate the definition of the word “healthy.” It will also seek to define the word “natural,” and reevaluate regulations for nutrient content claims in general”

What has this to do with bipolar? To resolve any mood disorder you need to be eating plenty of healthy fat. Things like avocados – yet in USA this was defined as unhealthy – not surprising that a lot of Americans have been confused or that they have by far the highest rates of bipolar and many other disorders.

Eating the right things was key for my recovery and still is.

Lithium, Magnesium and Overcoming Fatigue

Lithium, Magnesium and Overcoming Fatigue

In the video below Dr Rhonda Patrick says that we all need to be able to re-absorb magnesium from our urine to avoid magnesium deficiency. (Listen from 2m 00s).

When taking lithium tablets “…dehydration is due to lithium inhibition of the action of antidiuretic hormone, which normally enables the kidney to reabsorb water from urine. This causes an inability to concentrate urine, leading to consequent loss of body water and thirst.from Wiki

With lithium disrupting the hormone, that allows our kidneys to reabsorb water, does this also decrease our ability to re-absorb Magnesium?

Looking at what I can find on this subject it does not seem clear cut (see this medical textbook), but just supposing excess lithium can make a magnesium deficiency worse. With less magnesium we will have less energy levels (and tend to feel older), while bursts of energy, that could be seen as mania will be less frequent. Unfortunately, low magnesium is associated with more rapid aging, more illnesses and earlier death, so this may just be another reason to only take as much lithium as needed and no more.

As I have said again and again, it is so very important not to suddenly stop taking lithium. Talk with experts. If you are going to reduce your use of lithium you need to do this very gradually. Well designed withdrawal programs with many small downward steps over many years tend to work well. I came off lithium over a period of several years and have now been free of all prescribed drugs for more than 4 years. It is not easy to go ‘med-free’. With the right help I believe most people can do it.

In the meantime, as the doctor in the video says, you may wish to get your magnesium level checked. Possibly the only Magnesium test worth having is for the Magnesium that is inside your red blood cells. The test I have had in the past for the Magnesium between the blood cells (in the plasma) does not provide any useful information.

 

Getting this test privately in the UK is likely to cost you £34: http://drmyhill.co.uk/wiki/Magnesium_test_-_red_cell

I am going to ask my GP about getting this test paid for by the NHS because so many people lack magnesium and this has been a known driver for mood disorders for decades.

You can watch and learn more about the importance of Magnesium in this short video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWBCnVMoFZA

I do not have much free-time but if you are serious about getting rid of disorder from your life and going on to help others then please feel free to contact me.

 

If you know more about things like:

Mechanism of Li inhibition of vasopressin-sensitive adenylate cyclase in cultured renal epithelial cells.“:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2461098

please add a comment such that I can improve this blogpost

 

Lithium Orotate – response to two readers on similar paths

I think lithium may be a side-issue and providing we are not taking toxic levels then maybe it has no more effect on mood than copper, zinc, manganese, magnesium, calcium etc.

Well, probably far less effect mg for mg, as all the ones I  mention above are essential nutrients and their effects-according-to-intake are well studied and well understood.

E.g. Low zinc with high copper can make psychosis far more likely/far more disturbing, while low magnesium has long been associated with depression and is recognized as one of the top causes of depression for those eating ‘S.A.D.’ foods.

Yes, lithium is a very unusual element, but outside of bipolar and a little off-label prescribing no one is really using it or talking about it. It was banned decades ago for use for physical health because it was greatly increasing heart attack risks.

I think you both may be better to stick with your plans to come down gradually.

Incidentally, do you remember days when you forgot to take lithium the night before – how did you feel on those days? I think this is important information but do not allow whatever those feelings are to influence your current steady reduction route.

When reducing your reliance on lithium or any psychiatric drug then having a plan that your doctor agrees with is extremely valuable. Stick with it. You are both looking fitter and sounding better than when we first met.

 

Nutrition: more moving = better health #notjustbipolar

I have been thinking about how nutrition and movement fit together. Every part (every cell) of our bodies needs nutrients delivered and waste products taken away. This delivery and removal happens best when we move.

As we move about we are probably not thinking about how our movement is helping to keep our brain in good shape, but all the research is confirming that moving is good for our brains too.

I have cut and pasted the following words from today’s Mercola article:

Your brain is capable of rejuvenating and regenerating itself throughout your life. The study participants did not exercise formally but rather got their activity in via walking, gardening, and simply moving about each day – and those who moved the most had significant brain advantages compared to their more sedentary peers. Those who were the most physically active had better brain oxygenation and better patterns of brain activity, particularly in the hippocampus and in connecting different brain regions together.

http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2015/09/18/exercise-brain-health.aspx

When we move and how we move can be very important, but right now I believe the message needs to be…

Find ways to enjoy moving every bit of you every day. (The more we can enjoy moving the more moving we will do.)

…and…

In general: more moving = better health

….

Roger Smith

Currently working with:

Moore Osteopathy – Nottingham, UK

Mind & Body Consultants – Nottingham, UK

Blavet Gites – Brittany, France

Mood disorders are often due to deficiencies in vitamins and/or minerals

bipolar-vitamin

Getting adequate vitamin D reduces the risk of depressive episodes. This is a brand I have used. There are many other brands to choose from.

Regular readers here will be aware that I am not taking any prescribed drugs. I manage this largely by getting all the nutrients I need to have healthy chemical balances. My diet is pretty good, but my ability to absorb all the nutrients in my food is far from perfect. I use a few carefully selected supplements to correct for the deficiencies I have had in the past and common deficiencies that I want to avoid.

I choose the most natural forms I can and this helps me to avoid the most unnatural products from the pharmaceutical industry. However, it seems ‘big pharma’ continues to want to control and limit supply of the things we use that they have not patented. If this subject interests you then this blog post is well worth reading:
http://www.lynnemctaggart.com/blog/300-its-only-natural–like-in-oranges

 

Grain Brain #grainbrain, #perlmutter, #mercola #bipolar

FAQ: Where is the Dr Perlmutter, Grain Brain video? (Thank to a reader from Leicester UK the reminder)

Answer: I posted a shortened version, of Dr Mercola interviewing Dr Permutter on  Rethinking Bipolar in Oct 2014:

Low fat diets damage brains #Perlmutter <

It gives a lot of essential information in less than half the time of the full interview. However, please consider this:

For me, taking note of what these two doctors are saying about diet, health and especially brain health has been a huge step in developing resilience to all sorts of disorders. It allows me to say, for sure, I do not have the disorder part of bipolar in me these days.

Like Tom Whootton, I continue to be aware of my moods, especially the higher energy and positive feelings, just that I am free of that disorder. I sleep well. I, at last, have good steady energy levels again. I get lots of good stuff done every day. I get on with friends, family, neighbors and other health professionals. Life is good.

A lot of this goodness is due to doing the sorts of things discussed in this interview. This is why I am adding both a link and a ‘watch here option’ for this 1 hour 18 minutes version. It could be that, like me, you need to know precisely what these doctors are saying about brain health.

If you have concerns about the health of your brain or simply want to be thinking clearer and feeling better, then please watch and listen to all of this and let me know if you decide to include some of the ideas into your life – either using the reply option on this blog or through this contact form.

Mercola and Perlmutter

Low fat diets damage brains #Perlmutter

Teaching about nutrition and mental health since 2005, I have found that all my students who have had mood disorders (who have told me what they eat) have been on low-fat diets. Some simply choose low-fat options from the supermarket, while many have had periods of extreme low-fat dieting. Others simply choose to eat lots of fruit and avoid foods such as butter because they believe fruit = good / butter = bad.

None of this is surprising as food companies, drug companies, governments and health services tell us not to eat too much fat.

One change I noticed recently is more of my students are now already aware that the brain consists mainly of fat (65% to 75% depending on how it is measured) and this helps in explaining why healthy fats are necessary to allow our bodies to support and repair brain cells. What is less well-known is that healthy fats and in particular those rich in omega-3 allow you to create new healthy brain cells regardless of your age. This is contrary to what doctors were being taught up until a few years ago. Your current doctor may be unaware of this important new finding.

Part of recovering from any mood disorder is, I believe, to get expert nutritional advice on how much fat is likely to be good for you and how to get a full range of healthy fats into your diet. This is something I can help you to get to grips with, so please contact me if you are seriously considering dietary changes to help stabilize/improve your mood.

If you have not been convinced so far of how essential fat is for a healthy brain then please pay special attention to at least the first ONE MINUTE of this interview of Dr Perlmutter…

You can find out more about nutrition and brain health by visiting:

Dr Mercola’s website 

I have just posted a direct link to the full Mercola Perlmutter Interview       22nd January 2015

Stomach Acid 1 of 4 – Not just Bipolar Disorder #notjustbipolar

Not just Bipolar Disorder #notjustbipolar

Stomach Acid 1 of 4

When we get stressed, part of the fight or flight reaction is for our stomachs to make less acid. This is because it takes a lot of energy to make stomach acid and when we are stressed that energy is being used elsewhere.

Without enough stomach acid we do not digest protein at all well. If we continue to be stressed then much of the protein we eat will leave the stomach only partially digested. This is harmful to our health for these reasons:

  1. Lack of building blocks for good health:

For optimal health, then every day, we need enough of 8 essential amino acids that we can only obtain by digesting proteins. A lack of stomach acid is likely to leave us short of these vital building blocks for health and happiness. For example: Serotonin (often described as a good mood hormone) can only be made from the amino acid tryptophan. Failing to get enough tryptophan from our diet will cause us to feel less well as our serotonin levels drop. The medical intervention for low serotonin is often an SSRI drug (such as Prozac or Citalopram) however, without tryptophan you cannot make any fresh serotonin, which makes such interventions ineffective compared with improving digestion.

  1. Inflammation:

Below our stomach our gut has a sophisticated immune system. Its main function is to protect us against tiny organisms (especially but not only bacteria). However, our gut needs friendly bacteria such as those that allow us to digest enough vitamin B12. There has to be a chemical way for us to tell friend from foe in our guts. Every organism has unique sets (codes) of amino acids. Your immune system knows the codes for common invaders and will react to these often causing discomfort and inflammation. The trouble is that many partially digested proteins (perhaps most famously from wheat gluten) are mistaken by the immune system as invaders and so cause inflammation.

How does inflammation impact on common disorders? Reactions to improperly digested foods do not just affect the gut. This inflammation can affect our breathing, our balance, cause us to itch, cause blotches and almost always causes our energy levels and hence our moods to be more variable. Joint pain is also related to inflammation, so whether or not diagnosed with arthritis, the inflammation due to poorly digested protein tends to make us feel more pain/less well.

It seems that most people with the bipolar diagnosis have food allergies (and many may well have low serotonin due to poor digestion). Many allergies are mild and are simply described as intolerances. These may be put down to everything other than the true cause as most often the proteins causing the allergy are in that person’s favourite foods. For example: Protein in cheese is for many a source of variable moods, yet few cheese eaters will willingly give up eating cheese.

From personal experience I can say there are several effective routes for dealing with low stomach acid and through using these I can say the outlook is good. As we start to overcome low stomach acid and its effects then we can start to have more of the moods we want and need to be having. I will share what has been working for me and what I know works for thousands of others who have been diagnosed with ‘modern’ disorders and are overcoming these through improving their digestion.

For understanding allergies and intolerances I found ‘Boost your Immune System’ by Patrick Holford and Jennifer Meek to be particularly helpful

Roger Smith – www.rethinkingbipolar.com – article updated 29th June 2014

Stomach Acid 2 of 4 – How do we know when we have too little stomach acid?

Recovery from bipolar or any other disorder depends on our digestive system working well.

Ideally our stomach valves remain closed most of the time. How tightly these valves close depends a lot on the fullness and acidity of the stomach. The top valve only needs to open and then close again each time we swallow a mouthful of food or drink. When the stomach is full this top valve needs to close tightly. Ideally the bottom valve will remain tightly closed until a meal has been bathed in acid long enough to:

1) kill the vast majority of the harmful organisms that can be present in food,

2) break up much of the protein with the help of the stomach enzyme, pepsin.

Stress can cause any part of the digestive system to malfunction as energy is diverted from elsewhere in the body. One effect of stress is a lack of stomach acid when it is most needed and this may contribute to the valve at the bottom of the stomach opening too soon and letting partially digested foods through. This can lead to abdominal pains as partially digested foods tend to irritate the gut lining. It can also lead to a need to get to the toilet sooner than you would normally or even to what seems like frequent diarrhoea. From a survival point of view diarrhoea is a sensible reaction to under digested food as it is more likely to contain harmful bacteria.

Food not being in contact with strong enough stomach acid for long enough can cause Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). For everyone I have worked with who has had bad IBS, treating their low stomach acid that has lessened any pain, diarrhoea and bouts of constipation.

With low stomach acid the top stomach valve tends not to close so tightly which allows small amounts of stomach contents up into the oesophagus. The acid may be weak but with pepsin present it can start to dissolve any part of a body that is not stomach lining. This hurts! As the part of the oesophagus affected is near the heart, this pain is often called ‘heart-burn’. For some the pain is mild but can be frequent. For others the pain is severe and can even cause people to believe they are having a heart attack when it first happens.

Contrary to popular belief, pain due to too much acid or acid that is too strong is extremely rare. Here are some reasons for this:

  1. It takes a lot of energy to make stomach acid so our bodies do not waste energy making any more than is needed.
  2. The stronger the acid in your stomach the tighter the top valve should be closed to stop it coming out to burn the oesophagus.
  3. There are many disorders, illness and deficiencies that slow down stomach acid production but no common disorders (that I am aware of) that lead to the speeding up of acid production.

If you get chest pains related to your digestive system then it is almost certainly due to weak stomach acid and not your stomach making excess acid. (Low acid is even more likely as you get older and is affecting 50% of those over 60.*)

If you are feeling very stressed your body will almost certainly have too little stomach acid. Saying, “Be less stressed” is not going to help, instead I want to share simple ways to improve your digestion over the next few pages.

(Next article to be added about 13th July)

Roger Smith – www.rethinkingbipolar.com – article updated 30th June 2014

Ref*… see slide 9 of:

http://www.agri-dynamics.com/Health%20and%20Education/Health%20from%20the%20gut%20up.pdf

Stomach Acid 3 of 4 – Topping Up Your Acid #notjustbipolar

Stomach Acid 3 of 4 – Topping Up Your Acid – Not just Bipolar Disorder

If you are suffering from any kind of long-term disorder, whether; arteriosclerosis, arthritis, bipolar, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression (or any of hundreds of others) then having your digestive system work something like it should work is going to aid recovery.

For our digestive systems to work well we need to have enough stomach acid, right when we need it and not have that stomach acid or stomach contents anywhere other than in the stomach until our food is sufficiently digested to move on. Both stress and eating too frequently can cause the stomach valves to open at the wrong times. The top valve allowing acid up that burns the oesophagus leading many people to believe indigestion and heartburn to be due to stomach acid being too strong. It is usual weaker acid, just acid in the wrong place.

I want to share two remedies for low stomach acid. The first option is quick, simple and only costs about 50p/day (about $0.35/day). The second costs nothing. In the longer term I am hoping everyone who has this problem will follow me in my move to this zero cost option, which I will describe in my next blog. First though, if you are in pain or struggling with your moods you are likely to want a quick fix along with the good news that this does not involve any additional artificial drugs.

My personal experience:

I remember well my first acute problem with stomach acid. It was summer 1984 and I was working and staying in a hotel 100+ miles from home. One evening I chose the ‘mixed grill’ from the menu and was overwhelmed by the amount presented. It was huge! However, I grew up in a household where everyone was expected to clear their plate. I ate sausages, bacon, liver, kidney, black sausage a piece of steak and a whole lot more. The meal went on until midnight. I had never eaten so much! I went to bed and as always in those days slept right through the night and got up about 6:30am. Then suddenly I had the most extreme and frightening pain in the chest. This gradually eased over about an hour. Later I mentioned the pain to a colleague, who guessed the pain will have been linked to all the protein I had the night before and I would not have had enough acid to digest it all.

After this I avoided huge meals and my digestive system was fine until 1992 when a new neighbour moved in, removed our garden fence and claimed he owned part of our garden. He insisted we only communicate through solicitors which resulted in 3½ years of stress before a court case that allowed the boundary to go back to where it had always been. During the court case we had to leave the home we owned and move into rented accommodation 20 miles away as we feared this ‘mad’ neighbour so much. We were never able to return. I had not experienced stress like this before and ended up hardly sleeping at all.

Meanwhile I was experiencing indigestion every evening and this was horrible. I went to my doctor for various tests. Eventually, in 1996, I was incorrectly diagnosed as having too much stomach acid and was prescribed an acid lowering Protein Pump Inhibitor (PPI) drug.

Did I need a PPI drug? Most certainly not! It was the stress of the court case and house move that had lowered my stomach acid and was leading to the valve at the top of my stomach not closing. It was 20 years after this all started that I eventually paid for time with a nutritionist and came to better understand low stomach acid.

The nutritionist recommended Nutrigest® to be taken prior to any meal containing more than a few grams of protein. Nutrigest® is one of many tablets now available that contain natural digestive enzymes along with a source of stomach acid to aid digestion by temporarily boosting acidity, which helps with the tight closure of the top valve.  If your meals are not massive then Nutrigest® tends to be very effective. For me it eliminated all IBS symptoms and all indigestion.

Nutrigest®: In the UK, expect to pay £15 for 90 tablets. At 3 per day (one per meal) that is 30 days supply costing 50p/day. Other similar tablets are available with the same acid and enzyme combination.

As I say, this is a quick fix and certainly one I was grateful for after years of suffering.  – On the next page I will be sharing an even more effective zero cost option.

Warning: When stomach acid is too weak the bacteria that cause stomach ulcers can thrive, but stomach ulcers cannot be treated using additional acid. If you get more pain than usual after taking a Nutrigest® or similar tablet then stop taking these tablets as it could be due to a stomach ulcer or a severely damaged oesophagus, both of which need specialist help to ensure these conditions do not get worse. If you were ever told you had a stomach ulcer without appropriate testing then now could be a good time to ask to have your stomach checked by a specialist.

Disclaimer: Most people easily tolerate Nutrigest® because it is a natural product, however you still need to research and read the information that comes with the tablets. If in doubt consult a local nutritionist or a doctor with good knowledge of stomach acid. I am only putting stomach acid/enzyme tablets forward as one option, while the option I prefer and highly recommend is one I will write about next.

Roger Smith – www.rethinkingbipolar.com – article updated 3rd July 2014

Stomach Acid 4 of 4 – A Longer Term Route to Better Health #notjustbipolar

On 7th July I blogged about all long-term disorders, whether it be bipolar, diabetes, schizophrenia, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue, M.E., arteriosclerosis (or any of hundreds of others) seeming to be caused largely by what we eat or fail to eat. More accurately, these disorders are linked to what our bodies ingest and digest, meaning that sometimes we may consume all the nutrients we need but if some are passing straight through us we will become unwell.

We need to have enough stomach acid, right when we need it in order that we get most benefit from our food and avoid feeling groggy/miserable due to poorly digested foods in our lower gut.

When unwell or very stressed it can be difficult to make enough stomach acid to digest all we eat and that is why I wrote about Nutrigest® as a ‘quick fix’. Now, I want to offer a long-term solution that requires something more like willpower rather than tablets. Although the best long-term plan must be: to continue to better understand about all aspects of understanding nutrition.

This solution to having low stomach acid comes in two parts:

  1. Go longer between meals and cut out just about all snacks.

This allows your stomach to have a rest and to be prepared to rapidly make lots of acid at exactly the time you need it. The stomach can then work on your food batch-by-batch, being guided by its acidity, keeping both valves tightly closed while doing its hardest work with its strongest acid.

This could be linked to ‘intermittent fasting’ but mainly I have found that just going a little longer between meals and minimising snacking can lead to big improvements.

  1. Avoid unnecessarily large meals.

This part I have found to be more difficult. I used to almost always have sensible sized meals, meaning meals that my stomach could easily cope with. However, when I reacted badly to Prozac I was told I would need to take Olanzapine for life to avoid being overactive.

Olanzapine is a drug also given to people with anorexic to help with weight gain. It is said to switch off the chemical message to the brain that is released as the stomach fills. On Olanzapine I was always hungry; overeating, but still hungry. I guess this stretched my stomach.

Coming off the Olanzapine gradually over several years allowed me to lose all the excess weight, but my appetite remained, with me craving food more or less whenever I was not asleep. I looked forward to every meal, talked about food excessively (I still do that) and would snack and snack at every opportunity.

One thing that can help with cutting down on the total size of a meal is to fill your plate with the amount you feel is right to keep you going to your next meal and before starting have a firm plan for what you will do as soon as you finish eating what is in front of you. Add to this the option to stop and put any remaining food in the fridge if you do notice you are feeling full enough.

All this may sound like just another weight-loss diet however the purpose is different from most diets and works for most thin people too when it comes to sorting out stomach acid. Having the right amount of stomach acid gives us the best possible chance of getting the most from our food and so the raw materials with which to combat disorders.

How common is low stomach acid among people diagnosed with bipolar and these other common disorders? It seems to be very common and many finding Nutrigest® to be very beneficial for mood. It seems likely we have all suffered from low stomach acid at some time as it is related to stress and we have all been stressed at some time.

I have described the above as a zero cost option, really though, it saves money. By going longer between meals and not snacking I have saved £75/month on my food bill.

In a future blog I will explain why it took me so long to make this change and how I have been able to go longer between meals and yet; feel less hungry, have more energy and feel much fitter.

Warning: If you are of very low weight or very unwell then be cautious about going longer between meals and discuss your desire to tackle low stomach acid with a nutritionist or your doctor before changing what and when you eat.

Warning: The label says not to take Nutrigest® if you have a stomach ulcer. Stomach ulcers are not as common as many people think, so if you were ever told you had one without appropriate testing then now could be a good time to ask to have your stomach checked by a specialist.

Please contact me if you would like to know more about this method of overcoming many common disorders. I can tell you more about the changes I have made for myself or share links to the research that shows less often and eating less helps most people.

Finally please be kind to friends and family who struggle with eating less. Very often drugs/medication drive us directly or indirectly to eat more, while modern living leads to stressed people who naturally want to eat to frequently hoping to relieve some of their stress.

Roger Smith – www.rethinkingbipolar.com – article updated 9th July 2014