I’m here with Dr. Christopher Palmer, a Harvard-trained psychiatrist, professor, and researcher. He’s also a department director at MacLean hospital and has worked in administrative, educational, research, and clinical roles at Harvard for 25 years. His focus within psychiatry centers on using a medical keto diet for mental health.
We have a lot of labels for different mental health disorders (ADHD, OCD, bipolar, anxiety, etc.). According to Dr. Palmer, they all have an underlying metabolic theme and the lines between the labels are blurrier than most of us realize. Not only do we go into diet’s effect on mental health, but we go into the why behind it. Dr. Palmer also discusses how exercise, sunlight, and human connection all play a role in mental health.
When we think of metabolic disorders we usually think about diabetes and heart attacks. But Dr. Palmer has a convincing, research backed argument for why mental illnesses are also metabolic disorders. And by understanding how our metabolism and mitochondria work, we can not only reverse metabolic disorders in the body but in the brain.
Today’s episode was a fun one to record and I learned so much. I’ll hope you’ll join me and listen in!
Episode Highlights With Dr. Palmer
- His amazing story of almost not finishing high school and eventually becoming a Harvard professor
- Why mental health issues are on the rise and what’s wrong with what we currently understand about mental health
- Mental health disorders are now the leading cause of disability on the planet
- Why it isn’t a coincidence that rates of all these things are on the rise at the same time and how this can be a clue about how to handle serious mental illness
- How mental health and metabolic health are connected
- When the brain is malfunctioning, the only way to understand that is to understand the metabolism
- How mitochondria come into play in understanding mental health
- We’ve known for over a century that people with mental disorders have a metabolic issue
- Mitochondria play a direct role in the production and regulation of neurotransmitters and hormones
- How trauma and stress come into play and how they’re connected as well
- Why these metabolic and mitochondria dysfunction issues exhibit in different ways in different people
- Smokers have double the rate of type 2 diabetes even though they’re thinner on average than non-smokers and why this is important to understanding mental health
- Dietary strategies that may help with mental health: biggest one is to get rid of processed food especially highly palatable food
- How community and social factors come into play for both mental health and metabolic health
- The dietary factors that can support metabolic and brain health
- Prevention strategies in children for avoiding mental illness
Resources We Mention
- Dr. Christopher Palmer – Website
- Brain Energy: A Revolutionary Breakthrough in Understanding Mental Health–and Improving Treatment for Anxiety, Depression, OCD, PTSD, and More by Christopher M. Palmer MD
- Atkins for Life: The Complete Controlled Carb Program for Permanent Weight Loss and Good Health by Dr. Robert C. Atkins M.D.
- Wellness Mama Bulk Protein Ebook
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