Gut Health=Psyche Health

Psyche health

Matthew is this guy I’m really into and we’ve both been on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) for over 3 months now.

I was a paleo purist before I started the AIP & I haven’t noticed too many changes over these months, other than a significant improvement in my mental health. My mental health was good when I started. Now it’s fantastic.

Matthew has been intermittently experiencing reduced pain & inflammation, which is the goal, but soon after the 2-month mark, a couple of unexpected things also happened:

  1. He almost totally stopped snoring. I’ve had to wear industrial-strength earplugs for years, but in the last month I’ve put them away. Anyone who has a mate who snores will know how life-altering this is (for me!); and
  2. He started lucid dreaming.

I’ve been curious about the dreaming & have been mulling over a possible connection in my mind over the past month:

Gut health=Mental health=Psyche health

Culturally, we’ve been invested in this mechanistic view of health & biology & the universe for so long we sometimes forget how much we don’t know.

This idea about the connection between gut health & psyche health was just bouncing around in my head until I read Mark Sisson’s post on resistant starch yesterday.

Turns out that not only is resistant starch great for gut health, but it also “improves sleep, conferring the ability to hold and direct (in real time) private viewings of vivid movie-esque dreams throughout the night.” Mark went on to say that he has experienced these dreams first-hand and that he suspects “it has something to do with increased GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) from the increased butyrate. Another possibility is that resistant starch is feeding serotonin-producing gut bacteria, and the serotonin is being converted to melatonin when darkness falls.”

Maybe!

And (or) maybe there is some other connection between the health of our gut and the health of our psyche.

Maybe our SAD diet has been making us stupid in multiple ways.

Not only inhibiting our ability to think clearly, but to dream clearly. And destroying our agency as dreamers.

Consider the implications.

If dreams are the mechanism by which our subconscious sorts & makes sense of experience, what difference would it make if we could be active participants in that process?

What would Psyche Health look like?

A society full of healthy psyches?

Robert A. Johnson has a bunch of excellent mini-books on Jungian psychology. A couple of them changed my life, including Owning Your Own Shadow: Understanding the Dark Side of the PsycheHe writes:

“A whole generation can live a modern, civilized life without ever touching much of it’s shadow nature. Then predictably–twenty years is the allotted time–that unlived shadow will erupt and a war will burst forth that no one wanted but to which everyone contributed. Apparently the collective need for shadow expression supersedes the individual determination to contain the [shadow]. And so it happens that an era of disciplined creativity is always followed by an astounding display of annihilation. There are better ways of dealing with the shadow, but until they are common knowledge we will continue to have these outbursts in their most destructive form.”

A society of healthy psyches could (or maybe by definition, would) succeed in finding better ways of dealing with the shadow.

And a society of healthy psyches with no snoring?

We’d be a truly evolved species…

6 thoughts on “Gut Health=Psyche Health

  1. Petra – I have wondered the exact same thing as I take this wee journey in AIP-land with LM (who has also stopped snoring). What would happen if all this processed crapola was removed from our diets and we HAD to eat fresh and local…?

    1. Really? Your bed-mate has stopped snoring, too? That’s so interesting! Before I got the supersonic earplugs I spent so much time sleeping on the couch. This is a fantastic puzzle…

  2. This is really interesting. For a long time (as a child) I was a lucid dreamer.
    then I deliberately stopped dreaming (for about 20 years), then deliberately started again. I notice now that *sometimes* I can direct my dreams and sometimes I deliberately (in my sleep) decide to just see where they go. It’s funny that I can remember doing that but can seldom remember the content of my dreams.
    I am so happy to hear that Matthew’s health seems to be improving!

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