Brain Health Course with Roger Smith

Brain Health – It is what we all need.

I hope you can join us at Folks & Fables Cafe, Long Acre, Bingham, Nottinghamshire  NG13 8AFBrain Health - Feb 2018 at Folks and Fables


If diagnosed as bipolar, how much might lowering unhealthy carbs while increasing healthy fats help? #LCHF #notjustbipolar

Does HCLF cause mood troubles? Does HFLC help to eliminate mood troubles?

A bit of a generalization here:

  • Countries that have been early adopters the Standard American Diet (often called the SAD diet) have far higher rates of mood disorder, including bipolar.
  • Countries that seem to have resisted the Standard American Diet or have been slow to adopt it have far lower rates of mood disorder, including bipolar.

This does not prove anything as there are probably hundreds of other factors. It is probably just as true that countries that have more televisions per capita have higher rates of depression. This does not show TV causes depression but may, at most, suggest some weak link between affluence and more mood troubles.

Healthy brains are made mainly from healthy fat and healthy cholesterol. In whatever way we might choose to deprive ourselves of healthy fat and healthy cholesterol we will run into brain health troubles. Choosing not to eat cholesterol does not seem to be a problem. If eating good food a healthy human liver will make healthy cholesterol as needed. (Recent research indicates that almost any cell in the body can also make healthy-cholesterol if it is a well-nourished cell.) Depriving ourselves of essential fats (and I believe, going very low on some of the non-essential fats) will lead to brain deterioration and mood troubles.

Energy: The bulk of the energy in our food and drink always has to come from either fat or carbs. (It has become clearer-and-clearer that getting more than about 20% of our energy from protein damages the liver, kidneys, may even increase the likelihood of diabetes) We need to think, ‘fat or carbs?’ This is a decision I believe most people need to make.

The S.A. Diet has for a few decades been high in unhealthy fats and exceptionally high in unhealthy carbs. This is a lethal combination for both the body and the brain.

I have been teaching about diet for a long time and used to warn people against all sorts of things that I now tend to suggest people investigate eating more of, such as saturated fat (although I stress the importance of this being from organic farming). Examples include butter if you like the taste of it or coconut oil for the strict vegans. Moderation is still important, as you have to stick within what your digestive system, liver and blood vessels can handle in any one hit.

What have I seen in people around me? Those consuming higher levels healthy fats and very little of the least healthy (highly processed) carbs are both physically and mentally fitter and are better at the sort of thing Tom Wootton talks about, which is to be able to function well almost regardless of emotional upsets.

And me, personally? It has been a long road, in which I have used many tools and done a lot of experimenting on myself. I am convinced that consuming quite a lot of healthy fat every day has been doing me good. It is, for me, just one of hundreds of dietary and other changes I needed to make. What does not work for me is when I add refined carbs on top of my high-ish-fat plant-based meals.

Example: So far today…

  • The only food I had before driving to a meeting in Nottingham was 20g of 100% chocolate (less than 1% sugar and very high in saturated fat)
  • I next ate between 2pm and 3pm when I had a large ripe avocado, olives, walnuts and loads of vegetables, finished off with another 20g of that same chocolate.
  • Currently, I wait to see how I feel before my next meal and if I feel I need it I’ll include fatty fish or two ORGANIC eggs. If I don’t feel in need of food from animals I don’t have those. It is better for me not to always eat the way I was brought-up and almost certainly better for the planet if I only eat what I need. I’m not eating much meat at all these days, partly because it is not that easy to get organic meat around here and partly because I just don’t seem to need it like I used to.
  • Last night I had some organic beans late in the evening and slept soundly – I may do the same this evening. I am currently considering organic beans as a source of healthy carbs, although I know purists on HFLC might avoid beans.

[I like chocolate – I don’t eat chocolate everyday, else, for me, it can become an addiction!]

How important is it to get onto HFLC or at least make a decision about how to eliminate the most unhealthy of the carbs? I think an even more important meme to keep in our heads, whether or not we have been said to be bipolar, is,

The most important decision we make each day is what we put in our mouths.

The more I think about this the surer I become that it is so true.

As a last thought on this subject for now: I find that each day… what I eat that day;

    • influences my moods,
    • has a huge impact on how I well I can function,
    • has the biggest impact on my energy levels
    • and usually can provide good and steadier energy levels allowing me to achieve a great deal
    • and be something like the person I want to be…

…the next day.


As I often do, I am going to finish by saying that just because medical people said I had a mood disorder and I no longer take any prescription medications that does not mean it is easy to stop taking these. Getting the right food undoubtedly helps, just be aware there are so many other lifestyle changes that may also be needed before any changes of prescription medications. Make sure you have the best doctors you can find and talk with them.

Intermittent Fasting to Improve Mood – Not just bipolar

Many psychiatric drugs have a side-effect of increased appetite.

As soon as I agreed to take Olanzapine I found I was getting hungry far more frequently while having less and less interest in exercising. On a combination of lithium and Olanzapine I steadied out at around 45 pounds heavier than my usual weight. I am sure I got off lightly as I know many people who about doubled their weight while taking Olanzapine.

I have said/blogged about how my weight came down as I reduced my lithium intake. Now, I believe the bigger factor was my being able to gradually reduce my intake of Olanzapine and eventually coming off all psychiatric drugs. My weight is now about what it was before starting on these drugs.

What has been bothering me for a while is that bad eating habits that set in while I was on Olanzapine keep coming back. Perhaps those habits have never left me.

I have read and watched lots and lots about the importance of fasting, or at least having several hours between meals and not eating when we should be sleeping. My scientific background allows me to feel I understand why eating less often is so beneficial, yet knowing stuff does not necessary make changing habits any easier.

After another stressful period I recently realized that I was again eating from early morning until late evening with perhaps a total of 12 meals/snacks! Not on any psychiatric drugs I’ve not been putting on weight but am sure all this eating has been doing me harm.

Since 1st January (yes, sounds like a New Year resolution) I have started to take overnight fasting seriously. A friend has reminded me of an info-graphic from Dr Mercola. See below.

My current plans are nowhere near so ambitious at this time. I am currently seeing getting past 9am without eating and not eating after about 7pm as great achievements and I am just starting to get benefits from this in terms of having more energy through eating less. Yes, sounds a bit bizarre, but by eating less often I mostly have more energy and feel better too.

Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is not a form of starvation but a way for you to time your meals to maximize your body’s ability to burn fat. Embed this info-graphic on your site to serve as a guide for you to create a healthy eating plan, and reap the many benefits of fasting done the right way. Use the embed code to share it on your website or visit our infographic page for the high-res version… Intermittent fasting

Heal Your Brain from Bipolar/Depressive Disorders – Dr John Bergman Video

I found it difficult to accept that my gut health was such a huge factor in determining my moods. For years I did not believe anyone could eliminate mood disorder from their lives. I was wrong. Bipolar disorder is not a specific illness. It is more a set of symptoms, many of which are driven by or made worse through having damaged guts as Dr Bergman explains in the video below.

The USA is way ahead of the rest of the world with far more bipolar disorder and more use of psychiatric drugs to maintain the disorder. On the plus side there are more experts in the USA who understand healing processes and especially the part gut health plays in disorders and cures.

If you find full recovery difficult to believe that is understandable because it so different from the common message of life-long disorder. As I have said before, it is the people who believe recovery is possible who are able to recover. Please keep an open mind and believe things can be a lot better.

Eliminating bipolar disorder involves making lifestyle changes, which in my experience always includes improving our gut health by changing what we put in our mouths. There is of course more to eliminating mood disorders than Dr Bergman can cover in a 47 minute talk, but knowing more about how our guts affect our moods is a great place to start.

I work in the UK meeting people who have been told they have incurable disorders such as diabetes, hypothyroid, arthritis, chronic fatigue, depression and of course bipolar disorder. I can provide one-to-one help based on my own experiences. If you need to eliminate a health disorder and are prepared to make the necessary changes then ask me about one-to-one help or a training course. The group training I provide throughout the UK includes; Food and Mood, Natural Nutrition and Overcoming Mood Disorders. I can be contacted through:

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

Ups and Downs – Research Report Published #bipolar #bipolardisorder

‘Listen, empower us and take action now!’: reflexive-collaborative exploration of support needs in bipolar disorder when ‘going up’ and ‘going down’. Billsborough J, Mailey P, Hicks A, Sayers R, Smith R, Clewett N, Griffiths CA, Larsen J.

This is an article published in J Ment Health. 2014 Feb;23(1):9-14. doi: 10.3109/09638237.2013.815331.  US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

This was a project I was involved with and that I will say more about soon. 

I was fortunate enough to present this work at Nottingham University in 2012, where I concluded with one thing I learned from the study. Influenced by a sister of someone with a bipolar diagnosis who I interviewed during the study this thing I learned was that a (maybe ‘the‘) key factor in recovery and long-lasting wellness is love or if not love then it is something very like love that a lot of us need.

I have to admit that perhaps only one of all the people we interviewed actually said ‘love’, it is just that with everyone interviewed telling us how much difference it made when they were ‘really’ listened to… it is seemed clear to me that something very like love from the people closest to us makes all the difference.

As I say, I will write more about this research later.


What is bipolar? / Types of Bipolar #mentalhealth #bipolar

What is bipolar? / Types of Bipolar

Bipolar recovery requires finding out about causes, but first we may need some understanding of the psychiatric bipolar categorisation in use today.

Receiving medications for bipolar disorder is a serious thing, with patients on average dying 20 years earlier than the general population. However, with no medical tests for bipolar, it has only ever been a way of saying, “Something is wrong with your moods but we do not know what is causing it.”

With such a wide meaning then:

  • Are we all, from time to time, a bit bipolar?
  • Are there as many forms of bipolar as there are people in the world?

Bipolar is about categorization rather than diagnosis. Diagnosis means identifying causes, so technically speaking no one can ever be diagnosed as bipolar because bipolar categorization is reserved for people where the cause is not being identified. Bipolar categorization is about labeling.

There are four main categories of bipolar:

1)      Bipolar 1: This is the label given to people who admit to having low energy moods and have been seen to have some extremely high energy moods, whether associated with positive or negative feelings. This is equivalent to the old Manic Depression, other than; the highs in bipolar often being unpleasant with negative feelings or a confusing mix of positive and negative feelings, rather than the traditional manic depressive’s high which was considered to be a kind of ‘happy’ time for the person experiencing it. When the bipolar label first became available to psychiatry in 1980 this was the only type of bipolar.  Although the numbers with this label continue to grow it still accounts for less than 2%* of the adult population.

2)      Bipolar 2: This relatively new label is probably the fastest growing in the UK and may already have been applied to nearly 10%* of the adult population. It is used for people who admit to having low energy yet have never been seen to have extremely high energy moods. It tends to be given to people who previously would have been described as depressed as well as to people who suffer from fatigue syndromes where mood changes seem to be their main problem.

3)      The next less severe bipolar option is called cyclothymia, rather than bipolar 3. It again informs us, “Something is wrong with your moods but we do not know what is causing it.”

4)      Bipolar 4: This can be used when there is no dispute about a prescribed drug or ‘street’ drug triggering the damaging high energy moods. (It is unlikely to be used if the trigger is thought to be ‘a legal high’, nicotine or caffeine.)

At first a label can help us find support, however, bipolar labels stay on our (UK) health records for life, often preventing professionals from looking for or tackling the causes of our troubles.

In many ways the exact label is not so important. The part that needs to be tackled is the cause or causes. Only by getting to grips with what causes us to be seeing a psychiatrist can we start to make a lasting recovery, otherwise we will continue to have to manage/cope with moods we do not want to be having.

I am hoping I can help readers to find and tackle the causes of their disordered moods.

Roger A. Smith

31st January 2014

*In the UK it is difficult to know exactly how many people are affected as many people are not told what is in their medical notes. I would like to hear from anyone who can provide up to date estimates of numbers affected.

BIPOLAR IS BOOMING! #bipolarboom #bipolardisorder

What is causing the BIPOLAR BOOM?

I am increasingly being contacted by young people saying, “I think I am bipolar” and those who have persuaded their doctor to give them bipolar medications based on very common anxiety warning signs.

Several psychiatrists I have met through my work have told me of the increasing demands for bipolar medication from patients who do not seem unwell enough to need them. They also admit to being influenced to prescribe powerful drugs for children when their parents argue strongly that warning signs such as not sleeping enough or sleeping too much are signs of bipolar disorder. Something is going terribly wrong, when so many people are almost enthusiastic about gaining a diagnosis of a severe mental illness, especially one associated with shortened life expectancy.

How did this boom in bipolar diagnosis get going? 

Manic depression was a very rare illness prior to the widespread use of psychiatric drugs. As drug use increased in the 1950’s and 1960’s more people who were suffering occasional periods of anxiety or depression started to be considered to be manic-depressive.

Creation of a new category of mental illness called Bipolar Affective Disorder (BAD) in 1980 expanded the market for psychiatric drugs beyond the still small numbers admitting to being manic depressive.

Very few people understood the meaning of the new label as the word ‘Affective’ was not explained. The meaning being, ‘The mood that is displayed as opposed to anything measurable’, which made it clear for those prescribing that this was not a specific disorder that could be tested for or diagnosed by examining causes. The bipolar label and medication was only to be related to symptoms of anxiety or anxiety avoidance and rather than anything else, such as blood tests or trauma. This allowed patients to be labelled as bipolar and given medication without any need to ask what had happened/what had caused them to become troubled and be in front of the doctor.

Right from the start (1980), the media chose not to abbreviate Bipolar Affective Disorder to B.A.D. instead preferring to simply describe almost anyone with erratic moods as bipolar. Popularity of the new label grew and drug companies thrived without any complaint that the label was being misinterpreted.

Bipolar caught the public’s imagination as those labelled with it seemed to so often have extraordinary talents. This for many fixed the idea that people could be ‘born bipolar’. The idea of an illness that can be both a gift and a curse was popularized. However, in all the autobiographies of famous ‘bipolar people’ I have read the authors write about life events leading to their variable mood and influencing what they achieved rather than any in-built special abilities.

In the 1990’s bipolar was increasingly ‘promoted’ (wittingly or unwittingly) by celebrities who either claimed to have, or were said to have, a mood disorder. The idea of, ‘the disorder is part of who I am’, helped promote the belief that it was something they were born with. These stories from or about celebrities often gave the impression that bipolar was something ‘special’ that could give musicians, actors and authors ‘an edge’ or even an advantage over non-bipolar artists and performers.

For the bipolar handbook I co-authored I needed to check the origins of many of the stories about ‘bipolar celebrities’. It was amazing to find how flimsy the evidence was, such as Sting (the song writing and lead singer with the group The Police) had been labelled as bipolar simply because he wrote a song that mentioned a chemical associated with bipolar that was being used by a friend of his. [It would be interesting to hear from Sting at this point with his version of how people started to talk about him being bipolar.]

Proliferation of psychiatric drugs that cause the symptoms of bipolar, allowed drug companies and psychiatry to create more definitions of bipolar mood disorders. The range of options for people being labelled bipolar grew with options such as ‘bipolar lite’ and ‘cyclothymia’ for those not experiencing traditional manic-depressive symptoms. This variety has allowed me to facilitate regular workshops since 2006 instructing nurses about the many possible diagnosis.

I have worked in one of the fastest growing industries on the planet… The bipolar industry! Yes, bipolar has been booming. It has been lucrative for many. There is a lot of money to be made from bipolar.

It is time for change

As mentioned above, bipolar is classed as a severe mental illness associated with shortened life expectancy. It is very serious and detrimental to health to even be labelled as bipolar as the drugs that go with the label tend to be prescribed indefinitely with serious consequences. If such a label is to exist at all it needs to be reserved for people who are very unwell and who can benefit from being singled out for specialist treatments.

Is it not more ethical to help people avoid the diagnosis even if we in the bipolar industry earn less money by doing so?

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