A thought is an electrochemical reaction in your brain. Feeling happy is related to specific types of chemicals, or neurotransmitters, called endorphins, released from the brain (or gut) in response to pleasure (or a satisfying, nutrient-rich meal). Alternatively, the chemical response to a negative stimulus (or toxic food) adds a stressful load to our bodies. Feelings of fear, worry, frustration, anger, depression, resentment, rage, anger, and extreme guilt are linked to a deluge of chemical destruction.
Research suggests that there is a link between chronic negative thinking and illness, in particular lifestyle diseases that run rampant right alongside the toxic emotional environment created by our culture, communities, or social circles. From migraines and high blood pressure, to cancer and irritable bowel syndrome, there are clear connections between our physical and mental states.
Have you ever become sick after a traumatic experience? Or after a happy but intense experience, have you felt worn down to the point of illness?
Our bodies are not able to process a constant stream of stress. The information carried by a thought and the electrochemicals that convey that thought, course through our bodies. Along the way, these chemicals have the ability to cause changes to our DNA, to the making of our molecules and our cells. And while a series of positive thoughts can, for example, lead to improved immune function, a tide of negative experiences can change our cells in such a way that our susceptibility to illness is increased.
So, positive thinking is key to good health. We have inside us a medicine cabinet of chemicals that can shape our health. Stress chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline, when allowed to race through our bodies day after day, can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes. Along the way, these hormones saturate the brain, leading to poor memory, reduced creativity, and medical diagnoses such as depression and anxiety.
“Who Switched off My Brain? Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions” by Dr. Caroline Leaf is a straight-forward read that goes in-depth on ways to shift our mental processes from negative to positive. I highly recommend this book for anyone suffering from chronic stress, anxiety, and low-grade mood issues. It would make a helpful addition to cognitive behavioral therapy work. Best of all (from a nutrition perspective), this book offers simple explanations of the interaction of negative thinking, diet and lifestyle factors, and explains the resulting cycle of stress and illness.