Chemical imbalance in the brain

The chemical imbalance in the brain is often put forward as a primary cause of depression.

And it’s true. Too little serotonin is not good for mood levels.

The trouble is, maybe we’re not told the full story.

We’re given a script for some antidepressants and we go away and try it, and if that doesn’t work the dosage is increased, and if that doesn’t work we’ll try a different medication.

And it’s true that all these medications are designed to alter the chemical imbalance in the brain.

But you know what else changes brain chemistry?

Almost everything.

Reading a book. Going for a walk. Opening Twitter. Lying down. Standing up. Eating anything. Or taking a long breath deep into the bottom of your lungs.

All change the chemistry.

The narrative that has been allowed to take hold says we have a chemical imbalance, and that we need drugs to correct it.

But maybe we’re not getting the full story.

Food as medicine, and the Rich Roll podcast in Ireland

During my journey of positive life choices, food and nutrition – the idea of food as medicine –  just keeps coming up.

There are very many advocates worth keeping an eye on, and one of the best is Rich Roll.

If you’re not familiar with Rich Roll, you’re in for a treat. I was introduced to him earlier this year by one of the new friends I’ve discovered through my journey in 2017.

Conor Devine, Tyrone man based in Belfast, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis more than a decade ago. In the past two years he has successfully reversed his MS symptoms by ditching conventional medicine and committing to a 100% wholefoods, plant-based diet – and taking part in Ironman triathlons along the way.

He has banged the Rich Roll drum to me repeatedly but good-naturedly.

I’m a daily podcast listener, so it was no big stretch to hit subscribe on a new podcast feed.

Rich is an American extreme endurance athlete, writer, speaker, podcaster and full-time wellness & plant-based nutrition advocate. Coming up to his 40th birthday, 50lbs overweight, going nowhere in life and out of breath after climbing a staircase, he decided to take action for the sake of his own health.

Within two years of embarking on a plant-based diet for the good of his health, Rich was a top finisher at the 2008 Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii, a 3-day, 320 mile double-ironman distance triathlon considered by many to be one of world’s most gruelling endurance races on the planet.

Rich and his wife Julie Piatt were in Ireland earlier this year to meet the guys behind The Happy Pear, Greystones twins David and Stephen Flynn, and take part in a live event at The Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin.

The audio of that evening has just been posted on the Rich Roll podcast, and it really is worth an hour of everyone’s time. (Link at the bottom.)

The entire show is based on an audience Q&A, and for Irish readers, the tone of the questions (how do I convince my large Irish family to eat less meat? how do you justify not including dairy in your children’s diet? where do you get protein if you don’t eat meat?) will be so recognisable.

But by far the most powerful question/story from the audience came from Kevin Kiely Jnr, an actor whose IMDB page includes credits from major Hollywood movies such as The Dark Knight Rises and World War Z.

Kevin’s words resonated with me deeply.

He said that at a time when outwardly he was most successful, inwardly he was most unhappy.

Kevin seems to have examined all the choices in his life, culminating in a new business serving vegan food in his home city of Limerick.