S1E4: What kind of 'mind diet' is right for you?

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Transcript for S1E4

Hi, welcome to is like this podcast your common sense mental and spiritual health talk show where we answer your questions and explore your world. One episode at a time, this podcast might be for you if you want to be a wiser, stronger, and more in-tune human being. I am your host, Dr. Uejin Kim, a dual board-certified psychiatrist, and also a fellow human being walking alongside you on this journey. So let's start walking.

In this episode, we're going to be talking about: what I am mine nutrition is? How do we feed our minds and what is healthy and what is unhealthy mind food, or how an expert like a nutritionist or psychiatrist can help us figure out what's going on with our mental health.

Just to recap, in the last episode, we talked about exercise as the first component of mental health, and fitness and how exercise was the movement control movement of the cognitive triad, which is your thoughts, emotions, and behavior and slowly moving it towards the lifestyle that is more aligned with your value. And ultimately, that is our goal. In this episode, we're going to tackle the second component of mental health fitness, which is nutrition. And I told you guys that I'm in my 30s. And I'm finding out in different ways every day, that my body in my 30s is different from my body in my 20s Things tend to get broken, and have a hard time repairing or recovering. And I just have no energy to do anything anymore. So really sparked my interest in looking into nutrition to help me get that energy and that function that my body needs. And essentially nutrition is what we put in from an outside source to our body so that our body can function. And people categorize nutrition as carbohydrates or protein or fat. But you know, if you break it down a little bit more, we are looking into vitamins and minerals that are essential to our bodies to work is a day-to-day functions. And some of the rough categories and very simple categories of bodily function are working, healing and detoxing, and building new things. And working kind of might is your organs functioning like digestive tract working or your heart pumping or your lungs getting air healing and detoxing might be more geared towards kidneys and liver function detoxing unnecessary and unwanted materials from our body. And building new things could be muscles and bones so that we can be stronger. And what does nutrition look like if you were to use it as an analogy for a mental health world? You know, previously I talked about how nutrition is from an external source and we take in to, you know, make our body function. And I want us to conceptualize nutrition in the mind. As you know our past events, you know our source of upbringing attachment to our parent tool figures, or past events like trauma or social interactions while was said to us or even positive events, positive social events, these are all the nutrients that we take in. And just like there are food groups that are helpful to the body, there are also food groups that are not helpful to the body. In general, we'll all agree that cleaner food, more vegetables, and fruit is beneficial to how the organs and your body function. And we all know that fried foods and sugary foods are not so helpful to the body. So just like this, there's food for our minds that is helpful. And there's food for our minds that are not helpful. And just like a certain diet regimen works for one person and it doesn't work for the other person. We can prescribe a set regimen of Mind Food to be beneficial universally. We have to go and respect the individual's journey of finding what is right for their mind. And also that it could change it could work for you in one phase of life but it might not work for you for the others. But in general, what will be considered kind of like fruits and vegetables of mine food. I recognize it to be kind of a therapeutic relationship, you know, whether it's professional or your friends or family that you can rely on and trust. I think that's very helpful to the mind. And also meditating and journaling where you can kind of release whatever is going on in your mind. without judgment and just maintaining curiosity, I think that's very helpful. And sometimes community, whether it's a religious community or social community, with a group of people just telling you that, hey, you belong here, I think that's a very good example of what good mind food is. And sometimes just plain out, having fun enjoying hobbies going out and going for a walk or hike or whatever your mind feels at ease and feels calmer and feels more relaxed. These are all considered beneficial mind food. An example of unhealthy or unhelpful foods in mind food would be in taking anything that has addictive value. And this could range from relationships like gambling and porn or substance, any of this takes your mind out of your control. And another example might be relationships or environments, you know, whether it's work or a group of friends, that doesn't value you as a person. And if you are continuing to allow yourself to be exposed to this environment, I will consider that as unhelpful mind food. So for example, I had a patient who I was managing for depression and anxiety, and she had been doing pretty well since she was in her teens. And one visit, she told me that she was having increasing dark thoughts, and sometimes they went to suicidal thoughts. And when I was talking to the patient alone, then she disclosed to me that she started dabbling in the dark web, and saw a lot of dark messages and thought, and dark videos about self-harm. And I kind of gently asked her, do you think what you were watching was affecting your mood, and she was saying is possible. And we decided to experiment and decided to cut out those content and see how her mood is on the next visit. And lo and behold, on the next visit, she was a lot happier. And she agreed that what she was putting into her mind was affecting how she felt so bad. how it plays out is what we put into our mind, or what happens to us affects how we work, you know how our mind works. So it could affect a cognitive trial working faster or slower, or more in control and not in control, or healing and detoxing, like getting rid of the negative influences or habits or building new things, establishing a new identity, a new sense of independence or confidence or building new habits, what happens to us or what happened to us. And what we put into our minds affects how our minds work, heal and detox, and build new things. Now, I know that when you guys are hearing this, you're like, Well, Dr. Kim, then why don't I surround myself with quote-unquote Healthy Mind food all the time, just cut out anything remotely bad. And that could be a knee-jerk reaction whenever I say this, because of course, we don't want to be feeding our mind bad things because we appreciate the power of the mind. But I'm going to hit a pause button here. And I don't want you to miss this. The whole point of mental fitness is to not act out of fear or react to it as a knee-jerk reaction. The whole point is to be disciplined and in control. So if you were to cut out quote-unquote bad mind food 100% of your life, not only is it impossible, but this is also evidence of not fit mind. Imagine if you saw somebody who is strictly on a restrictive calorie diet and no fat and no, you know carbs and just eating protein, lean proteins, if you're that rigid 100% of the time, you kind of wonder if it is sustainable. And also you get the sense that this person is not in control over their body and appetite it could eventually backfire and have a yo-yo weight gain or binge eating pattern because this person is restricting themselves and not trusting their instincts. You will notice that when you're eating healthy food you naturally crave healthy food and this is more in control and aware of what your body needs and wants. But this is very different from restricting your body before you're listening to your body and control and discipline are what we're going for not fear and lack of control. And also I would add that avoid the terms good and bad. Because being bad or eating bad food triggers guilt and fear. I want you to change the lingo to appropriate and appropriate or helpful and not helpful just to kind of ease that knee jerk reaction of fear and know just like dieting, if you slip this okay, maintain the nonjudgmental stance and stay curious because this is a learning opportunity to observe what that mind food did to your body slash mind and then study it. And at the end life is all about these mind experiments. And I hope you can kind of have fun with it.

So you know, we talked about how they're essential minerals and vitamins for us to have a regular function in our body slash mind. So one way to have vitamin deficiency is to not eat enough of it. Just like in a vegan diet, you have to look out for vitamin B 12. Because in a vegan diet, there's not a lot of source of vitamin B 12. And you have to replenish it in other means, but there's another group of issues in digesting what you're putting into your body that leads to eventually nutrient deficiency. So for example, an illness called Pernicious anemia is a disorder that causes your immune system to attack the cells in your stomach that makes this intrinsic factor, an intrinsic factor is a protein you need to absorb the 12. So if your body's attacking your stomach cells that make intrinsic factors and you don't have intrinsic factors, you cannot absorb B 12. So eventually leads to symptoms similar to vitamin B deficiency in a vegan diet, because you're not your body is not absorbing it no matter how much B 12 you put into your system. So symptoms of vitamin B 12 deficiency is weak muscles numbing, tingling feelings in your hand and feet, trouble walking, nausea, weight loss, irritability, and you know, you're having these symptoms, and you go to a nutritionist to say, Hey, I'm having these symptoms, can you help me and the nutritionist is gonna be asking you a lot of different questions to see if your diet is the source of the problem. Why are you not eating enough B 12? and nutritionists can get help from other physicians and run some tests to see if your body is internally having trouble absorbing B 12? And how does this look like in mental health, you can be doing everything you can like positive self-talk, and surrounding yourself with positive people, but sometimes it's not cutting it? Sometimes you're still depressed, still anxious, still out of control. And you know, you can go to a psychiatrist with all your symptoms, and tell them what you're doing what you're taking in what your mind food is, and psychiatrists are going to run some tests and ask you clarifying questions to see if the source of the issue is an internal digestive issue or external like lack of intake issue. And unfortunately, there's not a lot of bloodwork tests or imaging tests that can kind of pinpoint, this is why you have depression or boom, you have bipolar two. So a lot of the contents that we are assessing and analyzing is by interviewing, and they're gonna be asking you questions like what happened to you like the history of assault or upbringing, and current habits, you know, substance use living situations, stressors, they're gonna be asking you all of that, essentially, to see what is the cause of the issue here. And they're able to prescribe a medication to fill in the gap to give you the nutrients and functions that you need. Just like when you have Pernicious anemia, you can replenish B, 12, and other ways so that you can function without symptoms. In the next episode, I'm gonna be digging a little bit deeper into how the psychiatrists get trained and the three most common misconceptions about psychiatry, like Can we read minds? Do we love pushing pills? And are we anti-God? So I'm going to be answering that in the next episode.

So in summary is like this, just like exercise is the second component of mental health, fitness, and which is nutrition. Mind food like mind nutrition is what happens to us or what we do or say, that feeds our minds so that it functions well. And some mind food is in our control and some are not. And some of the quote-unquote healthy or a healthful mind, food will be journaling, meditating, being part of the community, or healthy therapeutic relationship or just doing your hobby and examples of unhealthy food could be any addiction like behavioral addiction or substance addiction or toxic relationship that doesn't value you as a human being and the problems would mind nutrition could be a lack of intake issue or absorption issue. And just like you can go to a nutritionist with your symptoms and they can find out if you have lack of intake problem, like B 12 deficiency and vegan diet, or you have an internal problem like Pernicious anemia, and they can kind of lead you to the right treatment that is right for you. And this is very similar to how psychiatrists will be asking you how your mind nutrition status is, whether is what happened to you in the past or what's going on now. Now, and they can see if you have external issues or internal issues, they can lead you to the right treatment so that you can have a great quality of life and you can have a life that is in your control and you have the longevity of life. So I hope this was helpful. 

Thank you so much for joining me. And again, I have the SpeakPipe link in the description box so that you can record any of your questions. And also if you think this episode was really helpful, please share I think anyone can benefit from this and I hope you think so too. And I'll see you in the next episode