When most people hear the word “depression” it is often correlated with a heavy, continually sad, and shameful label. If an individual is receiving help, it is usually treatment by a doctor with antidepressant medications.
What everyone needs to know is that depression is actually a symptom of an underlying imbalance. Many times, antidepressants do more harm than good. Think of the last drug commercial you heard. Often times, the disclaimers are lengthy and discuss how taking the medication could actually make symptoms worse. The black box suicide warning required on these medications is a good example.
Depression can have many causes, such as trauma or a tough season or tragedy. However, not often addressed in the care of a depressed patient are nutrient deficiencies and overloads, such as too much copper or too little zinc. Even a fancy word called “methylation” can cause significant imbalances. Last but not least, little “shamers” called pyrroles that play an integral role as well. By the way, I’ve written five books on these little-known underlying causes located here.
These imbalances and overloads, which nutrient therapy can fix, deplete your brain by lowering all the good stuff, and altering your neurotransmitters and hormones natural abilities.
We all experience anxiety from time to time. This is normal! All humans will find themselves in situations that remind us that we do not have superpowers. I do wish I was Wonder Woman though!
However, anxiety can be so extreme and consistent that for many, it falls in the category of “disorder.” When this high anxiety state becomes the new “normal” for an individual, we know there is a significant problem.
As a result, I look for the true biochemical imbalances that create all the tough mental and physical symptoms which include racing thoughts, extreme fears, insomnia, and even tummy trouble. Anxiety can have many causes, including zinc and vitamin B6 deficiencies, elevated copper levels, and over and undermethylation. I break all this down for you in my Eat for Life Academy.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Don’t be so OCD! We have all heard that, and maybe have said that when someone is obsessing about food, life, clothing, or a clean car! Some people are highly perfectionistic, and in some cases, struggle with depression and anxiety in tandem.
Obsessive compulsive behaviors are highly misunderstood. What you need to know is there are actually two distinct types. The first is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and the second, not so well known, is Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD).
Many, many times, these types are a result of undermethylation (OCD) or overmethylation (OCPD). The great news is nutrients can fix this! If you’re thinking “methyl what?” then check out my journal entry here.
In summary, if you obsess about one or two things (which for me was food and my body), and have a calm exterior with lots of inner tension, you might have a problem with undermethylation. If you, or someone you know, has very noticeable high anxiety, excessively fixates on minor details, and often comes off as a bit crazy or erratic, then overmethylation may be the problem.
Many people are not thinking correctly about ED’s. Nutrient deficiencies are NOT caused by the eating disorder, especially in the case of anorexia and bulimia.
The truth is that there are very strong genetic, epigenetic, and societal (check out my eBooklet on that in the EFL Academy here) factors that play a role in the development of anorexia, bulimia, and other forms of disordered eating, such as binge eating disorder (BED).
I personally struggled with non-purging bulimia where I would binge then fast and excessively exercise, which took me over 25 years to figure out. ED’s are caused as a result of inherited nutrient deficiencies which can be overcome. To reiterate, the disorder does not cause the problem, but malnutrition that results from the disorder will exacerbate the underlying cause and create more imbalances, which can become fatal.
For example, anorexia is usually caused by severe zinc deficiency and undermethylation. This is all that is needed to spark the flame. Combine that inside condition with the outside condition of culture’s perspective on beauty while subsisting on very little food, and it becomes gas and matches.
Many nutrient deficiencies manifest as symptoms long before the eating disorder even takes flame. A loss of appetite, intestinal pain, constipation, chest pain, high anxiety, depression, and issues with sleeping could all be indicators that a fire is brewing.
For myself, and thousands of others, what was happening is that as the imbalanced diet continued, nutrient levels reached dangerous lows, and then symptoms of anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder turned from spark to flame.
ADD and ADHD
ADD and ADHD are also misunderstood. To begin to really understand these conditions, you have to know what the word epigenetic means, which in short is how your genes can be influenced by environmental factors that impact your ability to think, focus, and concentrate effectively.
Environmental factors include things like the 4x4 burger, animal style fries, and Neapolitan shake you had at In & Out for lunch. It’s not simply about the genes and not simply about the environment. Both are factors that contribute to biochemical imbalances in the brain, which in turn can affect your functional capacity.
Individuals diagnosed with AD(H)D, or what my personal physician and mentor, Dr. Albert Mensah calls Focus and Attention Syndromes (FAS), can have any of these underlying causes: high copper, undermethylation, overmethylation, yeast toxicity, and/or Pyrrole disorder, all of which Eat for Life provides resources and solutions to overcome (I know these are big words but don’t let them scare you). Feel free to read my journal entry here.
It’s not simply a one-dimensional pill that will set a recourse, but a collection of nutrients to balance the brain (check out my free booklet in the EFL Academy to dig a little deeper). For example, if copper is high, this can short circuit the brain’s processes. Keep in mind copper is a conductor of energy. A good analogy I Iike to use is the energizer bunny that keeps going and going and going. This over-excitability is what creates inattention and/or hyperactive behaviors in individuals with copper overload.
It’s in the news now more than ever, and folks are trying to find out what is causing this epidemic in our children. I know there are different perspectives on the cause, but I also know there are distinct underlying causes that can only make the symptoms worse, and even stand in the way of the body’s amazing ability to reverse this in our young people and adults.
Autistic individuals suffer from a severe amount of something called oxidative stress, which is basically an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body. Further problems with methylation, copper toxicity, and enzymes not functioning properly are all triggered by environmental insults that have devastating effects.
Biochemical imbalances are far more sensitized in autism than any other condition, making it much more intense and difficult.
Gut health is also a huge factor. The GI tract needs to be healed so issues like malabsorption and yeast and bacterial overgrowth, all of which cause food sensitivities, can be reversed.
Most kids with autism are picky eaters and struggle with food because of gut inflammation and abnormal intestinal permeability (otherwise known as leaky gut). I have a number of free recipes in my journal and a booklet in the EFL Academy that you may find helpful.
Not long ago I worked with a mother who really struggled to help her sweet young boy, Grant. I was honored to be her guide. Today, Grant is better able to communicate with others, repetitive behaviors have reduced dramatically, his ability to focus is much better, and he is now able to enjoy more foods.
Autism can be healed with dietary and nutrient therapy! I have seen it happen many times, let me show you how.
What is undermethylation?
Undermethylation (also called histadelia) is an epigenetic condition that occurs when too few methyl molecules are available to add to enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters. Undermethylation is not the same condition as histamine intolerance or Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS).
Why is it a problem?
Lack of methyl groups (a carbon group with three hydrogen atoms) to support neurotransmitter activity creates depressed levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Suboptimal levels of these important neurotransmitters cause depression, perfectionism, obsessive-compulsive and ritualistic behaviors, addictive tendencies, high-achievement and competition, and seasonal allergies. Undermethylators tend to respond well to serotonin-enhancing substances such as Prozac, Zoloft, St. John’s Wort, and SAMe. These individuals are also more at risk to develop certain types of cancers.
Until recently, schizophrenia was seen in our overmethylation population, but we are now seeing quite a few undermethylation cases. According to my personal physician, Dr. Albert Mensah of Mensah Medical, one possible cause could be the liberal use of folic acid before, during, and after pregnancy. Folic acid decreases the presence of methyl in our DNA. This can be of great benefit to overmethylated individuals, but can create significant challenges for those who are undermethylated. Because folic acid is a common component of prenatal vitamins, and because we have no way of knowing the methyl biotype of a fetus while in utero, prolonged use of prenatal vitamins could actually be preselecting undermethylated children for increased risk of developing schizophrenic symptoms at some point in their lives. Please note research is currently under way on this clinical trend we are seeing.
Who can be undermethylated?
I often see high achieving, type A individuals with strong perfectionistic tendencies to be undermethylated. They are calm on the outside with lots of inner tension and often, severe depression. Undermethylation is also an underlying component of autism.
How can we fix it?
Undermethylators have a genetic tendency to be very low in calcium, magnesium, methionine, and vitamin B6, with excessive levels of folate. This condition can be safely corrected and balanced with dietary and nutrient therapy, as well as lifestyle modifications. First, let’s see if you might be impacted by this. Take my free, five-minute life assessment to find out if this applies to you.
What is overmethylation?
Overmethylation (also called histapenia) is an epigenetic condition that occurs when too many methyl molecules are available to add to enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters.
Why is it a problem?
Too many methyl groups (a carbon group with three hydrogen atoms) creates excessive levels of the important neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which leads to hyperexcitability in the brain. This causes high anxiety, rumination, heavy body hair, musical and artistic abilities, an inability to sit still, food and chemical sensitivities, paranoia, and sleeping problems. Overmethylators do not respond well to serotonin-enhancing substances such as Prozac, Zoloft, St. John’s Wort, and SAMe, which can make them suicidal. Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are often seen in overmethylated individuals.
Who can be overmethylated?
Individuals with high empathy for others, food and chemical sensitivities, and an adverse reaction to antidepressant medications may be overmethylated. Verbosity is also a hallmark of this condition.
How can we fix it?
Overmethylators have a genetic tendency to be very low in folate and vitamin B6, in addition to other important nutrients. This condition can be safely corrected and balanced with dietary and nutrient therapy, as well as lifestyle modifications. First, let’s see if you might be impacted by this. Take my free, five-minute life assessment to find out if this applies to you.
What is pyrrole disorder?
Pyrrole disorder (also called pyroluria) is a mood and stress disorder. It is often a heritable condition in the Irish, English, Welsh and Scandinavian people groups (especially those with light features: blonde or red hair, blue or green eyes, fair skin). Pyrroles have little or no function in the body and are excreted continuously in the urine. However, for a pyroluric individual, nutrient deficiencies occur because these molecules have an affinity for zinc and vitamin B6, and latch onto and excrete them in the urine before the body is able to absorb them. Another feature of pyroluria is a deficiency of arachidonic acid (AA) (a polyunsaturated omega 6 essential fatty acid), which is a critical component of brain function as well as normal growth and development.
Why is it a problem?
Pyroluric individuals are severely depressed in zinc and vitamin B6. Zinc and vitamin B6 are critical for a healthy immune system, neurotransmitter balance, as well as maintaining intellectual function, mood, and memory to name a few. Suboptimal levels of these important nutrients result in high irritability and temper, poor stress control, memory and concentration problems, severe mood swings, explosive anger and rage, anxiety, and depression.
Who can have pyrrole disorder?
I often see adults and children (think terrible twos!) with severe mood swings, high sensitivity, hyperactivity, an inability to tolerate stress, morning nausea, and night owl tendencies to have Pyrrole disorder. It is often hereditary, but can also be brought on by chronic stress or a traumatic event.
How can we fix it?
This condition can be safely corrected and balanced with dietary and nutrient therapy, as well as lifestyle modifications. First, let’s see if you might be impacted by this. Take my free, five-minute life assessment to find out if this applies to you.
What is copper overload?
Copper overload (also called toxicity), often hereditary, is an inability to eliminate excess copper effectively. It is not the same as Wilson’s Disease, a rare genetic disorder.
Why is it a problem?
Copper toxicity profoundly affects every system in the body, especially the reproductive, nervous, and glandular systems. It also has a devastating effect on mental health because it lowers dopamine (a neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s pleasure and reward centers) and increases norepinephrine (another neurotransmitter that also functions as a stress hormone) in the brain. Imbalances in these important neurotransmitters are related to anxiety and panic disorders, depression (especially postpartum), bipolar disorder, ADHD, autism, violent behavior, and paranoid schizophrenia.
Who can have copper overload?
I often see females with high anxiety, chronic fatigue, severe PMS, and depression to be overloaded in copper due to the relationship between copper and estrogen. However, any gender of any age can have this condition and it is an intrinsic part of autism. Copper rises with estrogen and is an essential component of blood vessel formation during pregnancy. Women who have had more than one child are at greater risk of developing copper overload.
Certain subtypes of breast cancer are estrogen-sensitive, making copper toxic females more at risk.
How can we fix it?
Copper can be safely eliminated and balanced within the body through dietary and nutrient therapy, as well as lifestyle modifications. First, let’s see if you might be impacted by this. Take my free, five-minute life assessment to find out if this applies to you.
What is zinc and why is it so important?
Zinc is an essential trace mineral that helps stimulate the activity of over 300 different enzymes. It enhances resistance to stress as well as helps to maintain intellectual function, memory, and mood levels. Zinc plays a key role in cell development and gene expression, and when deficient, the result is a wide variety of mental and physical health challenges.
Why is zinc deficiency a problem?
Zinc deficiency is by far the most frequently observed chemical imbalance in mental health because zinc is needed to make neurotransmitters. A neurotransmitter imbalance can cause a variety of symptoms such as anxiety, depression, paranoia, and anorexia. The proper balance of serotonin, norepinephrine, GABA, and dopamine is essential to a happy, healthy life. Zinc is also a critical factor in pre and postnatal development because zinc deficiency can be passed from parent to child. This significantly affects not only growth, development, and immune function, but your child’s ability to think, feel, and act, which can lead to behavioral disorders, ADHD, autism, and schizophrenia.
Zinc deficiency in parents before conception can cause miscarriage, fetal growth restrictions, learning disabilities, mental health challenges, and can even influence gender. This is because it takes more zinc to create a male than a female. While there is no way to determine gender, I almost always see zinc deficiency in couples that miscarry males and only produce girls.
Who can have zinc deficiency?
I often see zinc deficiency in women and adolescent girls with strong sensitivities, frequent infections, anorexia, poor memory and concentration, depression, anxiety, poor immune function, suicidal tendencies, and pale skin. The male reproductive system is also impacted by this condition (the prostate gland has one of the highest concentrations of zinc) and it is often hereditary.
How can we fix it?
Zinc deficiency can safely be corrected and balanced with dietary and nutrient therapy, as well as lifestyle modifications. First, let’s see if you might be impacted by this. Take my free, five-minute life assessment to find out if this applies to you.