The Surprising Connection Between Mental Health and Metabolic Health - Ep 48 - Natalie West

The Surprising Connection Between Mental Health and Metabolic Health - Ep 48 - Natalie West

Woohoo, let's talk food and feels!

My name's Suresh, and you're listening to another banging episode of the Meat Medic podcast. Today I have the absolute pleasure of chatting with my super special guest, Natalie West. Natalie is a clinical psychologist and nutritional psychologist, which sounds flippin' fascinating if you ask me. I reckon we're going to learn a truckload from this brilliant woman today. Thanks so much for joining me, Natalie!

Natalie has been keeping tabs on my journey, just like I've been glued to her incredible Facebook posts. We both agreed before recording that we've been peeping what the other is up to, and I'm certainly learning a lot! So I asked Natalie to start by sharing a bit about her background and what's led her down this path.

Turns out, Natalie was in the corporate world for 20 full years! Mad sales skills, operational management, the whole shebang. She started her career at just 18 years young. Then 20 years later, after having her first child at 33, Natalie decided she was well done working for other people. With a lifelong fascination for the mind and body, and coming from a family of medical peeps, Natalie felt a shift. Something new was calling!

Here's where things get really interesting. Natalie had a bodybuilding background, obsessed with fitness and health. But she didn't yet realize that was an external validation process with a conflicted, negative self-image. Eating as a bodybuilder involved disordered patterns of restriction and bingeing. This led to some precarious health situations, including borderline diabetes! Yikes.

But get this. Natalie attended a seminar with a psychotherapist who ALSO talked about nutrition. Lightbulb moment! She realized you can't just talk to the head and ignore the body. This therapist said Natalie could truly empower people to heal by understanding the gut-brain connection. 90% of nutritional deficiencies link to mental health issues. Mind blown!

This exposure set Natalie on the path of becoming a qualified nutritional psychologist. She's now been in the field for 17 years! Natalie still asks clients about their diets, which was unusual when she first started out. People wondered why on earth she wanted to know what they ate! But now, Natalie recognises food provides high or low vibrational messaging that affects our body's chemical reactions.

When it comes to mental health, Natalie says we have to look past the narrative that nutrition doesn't impact conditions like depression and anxiety. She points to orthomolecular specialists like Linus Pauling and Abram Hoffer who talked about nutrition and mental health way back when. This isn't new science, though the powers that be try to shush it away.

But Natalie believes your passion finds you based on personal experience. Hers led her to understand the mind-body-food connection. She had to heal her own negative body image and disordered eating patterns from years as an unhealthy bodybuilder. This fuels her desire to help others become conscious of their own patterns and make changes through nutrition and mindset work.

I asked Natalie what she currently eats after transforming her health. For over 4 years now, she's been full carnivore! That means eggs and butter in the morning, then red meat like beef and lamb for her second meal. She listens to her primal hunger signals to know when to eat and when she's had enough.

Natalie is no longer chained to the bodybuilder mentality of eating every 3 hours to "stoke the metabolic fire." She feels so free without counting calories or macros for over 4 years. Her mind has space for so much more than just thinking about food!

Even in her 50s, Natalie looks incredibly vibrant and energized. As she says, carnivore is the Benjamin Button way of eating that reverses aging! I can attest from my own experience that meat-based diets help us look younger.

With all Natalie has on her plate professionally, she credits carnivore for providing the grounded energy she needs. She does 16+ hour workdays as a psychologist, speaker, podcaster and more, yet has endless energy thanks to eating species-appropriate foods.

I love how Natalie says your health journey is yours alone. Don't compare yourself to others. Own your path with self-love, because you and your body are on this adventure together.

This is so true, as we discussed how people get discouraged comparing their results to someone else's. Your genetics and history are unique to you. The key is finding what works for YOUR body, not worrying what Sally down the street is doing.

Alright, let's get into the good stuff! What does Natalie have to say about how nutrition impacts mental health?

She explains that food provides chemical messaging that tells our body what to do. High vibrational foods create beneficial reactions, while low vibrational foods like processed carbs give us mixed signals.

When looking at conditions like depression and anxiety, Natalie says a HUGE root cause is underfueling and nutritional deficiencies. Our brains need proper nutrition to function optimally! She finds about 80% of mental health issues stem from poor diet and lifestyle habits.

The bioavailable nutrients in meat provide the precursors for our neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. For example, tryptophan from meat is converted to the serotonin we need for stable moods. No tryptophan, no serotonin!

Natalie emphasises how powerful amino acids are for mental health. You simply can't get all you need from plants alone. Meat provides complete proteins with bioavailable absorption. Plants come with antinutrients that block us from properly utilizing their amino acids anyway.

She also talks about the importance of animal fats for nutritional density. Meat and fat together give our brains the building blocks required for stellar mental clarity.

Going carnivore can be transformative for eliminating mental troubles, even conditions like addiction. As Natalie explains, it helps reset dopamine signaling gone haywire from poor diet and lifestyle habits. We start earning dopamine properly again, through movement and real food instead of hyperpalatable junk.

I love Natalie's point that we have to OWN our health journeys. It's not about willpower, which doesn't work long-term. It's about educating yourself on how your body works so you can make conscious choices from a place of self-love.

Meanwhile, the Standard American Diet high in processed carbs and sugar WRECKS our mental health. Constant blood sugar crashes lead to mood crashes. Sugar is more addictive than cocaine and drives us to keep seeking more dopamine hits.

Natalie cautions against comparing yourself to others on diets. YOU know your body best. Don't blame yourself either. Instead, understand you simply haven't had the right education on nourishing yourself properly. But you absolutely have the power to make changes through lifestyle and diet.

Wow, mind officially blown! Natalie dropped some serious knowledge bombs today that made me think. I learned so much from our chat, and I hope you did too. If you want to connect with Natalie and learn more of her wisdom, check out the podcast show notes for all her details. She offers free 30-minute consults, which I highly recommend if you're looking for support on your own journey.

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