Eating For Your Brain, Psychedelics & Rising ADHD

The Weekly Dose - Episode 98

Constipation & Cholesterol…

You probably never imagined these two factors could be linked…but they are!

Firstly, it’s important we don’t demonise all types of cholesterol; its needed to produce vitamin D and various hormones and forms a key part of bile acids which helps us digest fats.

Anyway… back to the main issue… why might your bowel habits be causing high cholesterol levels?

Constipation can influence the type of gut bacteria present in your microbiome which can affect your cholesterol levels due to how it’s processed and metabolised.

If your diet is deficient in certain fibres then you not only have an increased risk of constipation but fibres present in things like oats and legumes can bind to your gut cholesterol to prevent its absorption into the blood stream (you poo it out instead.. which also means more floaty poops!)

A study of over 70,000 women published in the American Journal of Mediein in 2011 showed that constipation was a marker of increased cardiovascular risk!

Tips for constipation:

1.    Try adding prunes or kiwis (with skin!) to your diet, published evidence suggests 2 kiwis a day for 2 weeks reduces constipation rates!

2.    One supplement I always keep handy in the house in psyllium husk. It’s a fibre supplement that you can mix with water and can be consumed daily.

For more interesting health hacks, order a copy of my book this book may save your life:


Can Your Diet Change Your Mental Health?

Anecdotally I always find when I’m eating “healthy” – meaning less takeaways, more fruits, more plants, more home cooked meals.. I feel better mentally as well as physically.

There is evidence to suggest a major link between your dietary composition and mental state.

In one recent major study, researchers took data on food preferences from 181,990 participants from the UK Biobank, a database of de-identified health information. From 140 food and drink items, researchers divided the participants into four dietary subgroups: Starch-free/reduced starch, vegetarian, high protein + low fibre, and balanced.

This data was analysed against physical markers and factors such as mental health, cognitive functions, blood and metabolism biomarkers, and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

The conclusion? That nutrients in your regular diet can determine brain structure which influences both your mental health and cognition.

So how you can eat to keep your brain healthy?

1.    Micronutrients

The leading cause of preventable brain damage worldwide is… iodine deficiency. The thing is we don’t even need that much! Iodine deficiency in pregnant mothers can lead to permanent suppressing IQ in their babies (particularly important given that 67% of pregnant women are iodine deficient). Ideally 140micrograms of iodine a day is recommended (iodised salt, dairy products, fish and seaweed are good sources).

B vitamins, especially B12 is key for cognition and brain function. A deficiency can cause confusion, depression and memory issues. An important one to take into account especially for vegetarians.

Polyphenols and antioxidants from fruits (especially ones with a darker red/blue purple colour) as well as omega 3 fatty acids (oily fish) help with the growth of new connection between neurons and helping to protect existing brain cells.


2.    My favourite – fibre

It is well evidenced that a chronically low fibre intake contributes to a pro-inflammatory state in the gut and this can increase the risk of various chronic conditions like bowel cancer.

This low grade inflammation in the gut can affect the integrity of your gut lining and allow gut bacteria into your bloodstream and thus further trigger your immune system to promote an inflammatory response.

Body wide inflammation like this can also provoke neuroinflammation which over a long period of time can contribute to conditions like depression and Alzheimer’s disease.

Your gut bugs are also key to protecting your brain by means of producing beneficial short chain fatty acids and various neurotransmitters after they brain down fibre.

These short chain fatty acids can also contribute to the integrity of the blood-brain barrier too which is a biological fence which helps to keep out toxic protein and pathogens from entering the brain space.

The UK biobank study found that people on a low fibre diet had a reduced brain volume in 11 brain regions versus those on a balanced diet.


I’ve recently made videos about nutrition and diet and many of you have been asking for a bumper list of all those food combinations I spoke about… so here it is, enjoy this free PDF crib sheet (stick it on your fridge!):

FOOD HACKS.pdf72.92 KB • PDF File



Why Is Adult ADHD On The Rise?

Over the last few years, certainly if you consume content on social media, you will have seen a huge uptick of adult being diagnosed with neurodivergent conditions like autism and ADHD – a diagnosis more commonly associated with children.

Many cynics might consider this rise of adult ADHD a “trend” but there are genuine reasons for this rise in incidence…

For starters, we have a greater number of adults. A growing population means that the incidence of various conditions will increase.

There has also been a significant drive to raise awareness and destigmatise neurodivergency in the last few years – an area shrouded in taboo and stigma.

Countless education and awareness campaign means people are more willing to discuss neurodivegence and the medical infrastructure to support and spot it is more robust.

But why are adults who seemingly have lead a life for so many years seek out a diagnosis of ADHD if they’ve “managed” to get by for so long without one?

Unfortunately that’s an argument of false dichotomy.

Just because someone can walk around with their shoelaces untied, doesn’t mean they should.

A diagnosis can offer clarity to someone’s lived experience and help justify various thought processes they are/might have had. These factors can help reduce stress and improve mental wellbeing.

But getting a diagnosis especially with waiting times to be seen and referred to a specialist isn’t easy. Which does leave many to self diagnosis online, particularly given ADHD content is incredibly accessible and popular online on social media sites.

If you feel you have any signs of a neurological condition you should seek this advice from a specialist even if these official resources are difficult to access. That being said there is a wealth of accurate, professionally verified information available online.


What I Learned About Psychedelics…

I recently had Professor David Nutt on my podcast and if you want a primer on psychedelics and mental health… it’s worth a listen.

Not least to find out why it’s been so stigmatised for a number of decades.

He did say one thing which made me chuckle and might not appease everyone: “everyone should experience LSD at least once in their life”

As a pioneer of psychedelic drug research I understand his passion. There’s no denying its potential for use in mental health.

In fact researchers in 2016, researchers at NYU Grossman School of Medicine found that a one-time, single-dose treatment of psilocybin, a compound found in psychedelic mushrooms, combined with psychotherapy appeared to improve the emotional wellbeing of cancer patients for up to five years!

This landmark study found that psilocybin combined with psychotherapy sessions led to decreases in cancer-related demoralisation and hopelessness, improved spiritual well-being, and increased quality of life in a group of 29 cancer patients.

Six months later, they found that 60 percent to 80 percent of participants continued with clinically significant reductions in depression or anxiety.

A follow-up study five years later, more than 70 per cent of the participants said the psilocybin-assisted therapy brought about long-term positive life changes and rated it as among the most personally meaningful and spiritually significant experiences of their lives.

We don’t fully understand how psilocybin works but its hypothesised that the drug can make the brain more flexible and receptive to new ideas and thought patterns and help to break this pathological rumination which is prevalent in many mental health conditions.

It is worth adding all this is in a clinical setting with close observations, controlled dosing and appropriate follow up, not an endorsement for self medication!

You can listen to the full episode with Prof David Nutt here:

If you want some more interesting insights into the world of neuroscience there are a couple of accounts I follow on Instagram that provide useful nuggets of information:

  1. @nasneuro

  2.  @nicolesneuroscience


What You Should Watch –

Dancing For The Devil: The 7M Tiktok Cult

I’ve always been fascinated with cults in general… if you throw the potential of mass manipulation via social media into the mix you’ve got the makings of a modern day cult!

This docuseries on Netflix is an interesting insight into the world of social media and how those with large audiences are not immune to manipulation from powers that be…



News Bites…

The Danger of “Supersharers”

A small number of “supersharers” spread the vast majority of fake news on twitter.

A study found that less than 1% of twitter users posted 80% of the misinformation about the 2020 US presidential election. These posters were disproportionately republican, middle aged white women living in Arizona, Florida and Texas.

Reducing peanut allergies?

A new study found that giving young children peanut products cuts allergy risk!

The study found that children who eat peanut snacks regularly from 4 to 6 months onwards are 71% less likely to have a peanut allergy at 13.

(this is a brief summary of the study, NOT medical advice! I will do a more in depth video on this at some point)

Your Youtube Best Friend..

A new study suggested a one sided relationship with youtubers are more emotionally fulfilling than talking to casual friends.

The research discovered people feel like watching online stars can cheer them up more than weak acquaintances like neighbours or co-workers!