Ep. 16 - Neurotransmitters: How Nutrition Shifts our Mental Health with Matthew Cress
June 3rd, 2022
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Doug: [00:00:00] If you feel you often lose control of your eating and your hunger, if you feel anxious or even afraid to enter your kitchen or go out to eat with friends. If you feel you can’t stop eating once you start, or you no longer want to be controlled by food and the emotions that surround it, lean in my friend and get inspired.
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Matthew: “Having all that dopamine uses up your nutritional stores and you have to rebuild those stories afterwards. And if your diet doesn’t satisfy those nutritional stores, then you’re going to stay in a low dopamine state and you’re not going to get better. And that’s where people get stuck because they feel like they’re just stuck in this low dopamine area…”
Doug: Welcome back to the weight loss with hypnosis podcast. My name is Doug Sands and I’m the hypnotist and the host behind this show. This week I’m so excited to share this conversation I had with Matthew Cress. Matthew is a nutrition expert with an extensive personal background that we touch on quite heavily throughout this episode. Matthew specializes in working with nutrition for mental health, specializing among other things. And this episode is perfect for you if you also struggle with your mental health, if you struggle with allergies or skin [00:04:00] issues, or if you also want to know how keto and intermittent fasting, aren’t just about losing weight, but can actually improve your mental and your physical health.
This was an absolutely fascinating conversation I had today. I really wished that I could have had couple hours just to dive deep into all of these topics. And I really think that you’re going to love this episode. So with that, let’s dive right into the interview.
Doug: Welcome back to the podcast. I’m so excited for today’s episode. Today, I am joined by Matthew Cress. Matthew, thank you so much for joining us today.
Matthew: Hi, thanks for having me.
Doug: Absolutely. Matthew, would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself, about your story and about how you got into your specific practice?
Matthew: Yeah. So, my name is Matthew Cress. I’m 29 years old. I am a dietician nutritionist that works with chronic diseases and difficult health problems, which is not your [00:05:00] typical dietitian nutritionist that is formed by, you know, the government and your higher education. I personally struggled with my own health issues and that was part of the reason why I got into nutrition.
As I went through my dietetics training program, I was frustrated because I was trying to get healthy and it just did not work with the recommendations that I was following. And so I ended up taking matters into my own hands. And I found health through nutrition, through reading books obviously, through supplements and through revamping my lifestyle.
And so I have this whole health story that is, it can be quite long actually, but you know, I’ll give you a boiled down version. Would you like to hear about my little health journey?
Matthew: Okay, great. So, to get started, I was practically born sick and I know it sounds like pretty sad.
Some people usually get sick later in life. Some people get sick, you know, as they’re going through puberty, but I was practically born in sick. My mom said that she was going through PTSD while she was having me. [00:06:00] And then by the age of two or three, I actually got croup, which is an upper airway viral infection.
And it has you coughing like a barking dog and it’s, quite aggressive, especially when it’s coming out of like a two to three year old baby. So you can imagine like my mom being, oh my God, what is wrong with my child? So I was hospitalized for that and eventually, they gave me medication to treat the viral infection and it’s actually quite a common infection for children that get the viral, you know, load.
So then, I was brought back home and eventually I ended up getting seven consecutive ear infections. And all of which were treated with antibiotics which would be very harmful for developing immune system. And so I completely missed out on developing my foundation of health. And you know, seven rounds of antibiotics is hard on an adult.
Can you imagine that on a two to three year old? So I don’t want to say like I didn’t stand a chance, but it was hard. But you know, here I am today healthy. So I have a wonderful story to tell you, not all is lost. After the [00:07:00] ear infections, I ended up developing environmental allergies and to quite a debilitating state. I was allergic to absolutely everything outside, trees, grass, pollen, cats, dogs, weeds, plants, you name it, I was allergic to it. I was the sick kid. I was always sick. I either had a runny nose or I had congestion or sneezing all the time, I had anti-histamines, I never was outside. I never left the house without tissues. Like that was me. I suffered from my allergies and you know, this whole sinus problem for 20 years.
And I remember, and it was actually thanks to the confinement thing and me not going down and figuring out what was really going on because it gave me an opportunity to really focus on what I was doing. And remember when I was like 26 or 27, for the very first time when it went from winter to spring, I realized that I was outside and I was watching the pollen [00:08:00] flow through the air and I wasn’t sneezing.
I gotta tell you, that will change your life. When I got home, I sat down and I had just like this emotional release cry. I was like, oh my goodness. I did it, like, look at me, I didn’t feel like a prisoner in my body anymore.
And it was such a release. And I was like I gotta tell everybody, you know, this is possible. I want to spread the word, I want to help other people. I want to, be not necessarily that beacon of health, but, you know, I’m sure there are other people out there that are like me and that, despite all of their efforts, they’re just having a hard time.
I did grow up in a lower middle class family, so I didn’t have access to healthcare. Like a lot of other people do. And I would like to be a voice for people that probably don’t have as many resources as I did. And I would like to put content out there and to help these people get their way to their health journey.
Cause I know that there are a lot of people now. They’re going through their own health journey and I’m reading it online and [00:09:00] I’m seeing these anecdotes and I’m seeing all these empowering health stories and it’s really motivating. And you know, I’d like to play my own part. So aside from the allergies, that was not my only thing, but it was my main concern.
There are also mood disorders and, mental health problems in my family. Mental health, as in like severe anxiety, ADHD, dyslexia. I had endorphin deficiency syndrome. My mom would tell me that I would cry because the sky was blue, which is sad, but that just gives you an insight as to where my body was at and what I was going through.
It was really quite unfortunate cause I would feel not necessarily like trapped in my own body, but you’re like, why are these people so happy? You know, you’re looking outside into the public, you’re like, these people look so happy, healthy, why did I get dealt this hard? You know, this hand of like bad cards it’s like, what’s going on? How can I fix this? How can I get what they have? And then as you know, when I had my moments, when I was getting resolution with my allergies, I also got resolution with [00:10:00] my ADHD and my anxiety. That being said, when we went through the whole COVID confinements, oh, side notes, I’m originally from Michigan, but now I live in Leone, France, so I am abroad.
With the whole COVID situation, we did have laws that told us that we had to confine, we had to quarantine. And we had to have a permission slip that we’d have to sign in order to go outside. So basically, you don’t go outside if you don’t need to, because you have to fill out a permission slip and it’s just a hassle.
And so I’d stayed inside. and I don’t get direct sunlight and I can’t go to the gym cause all of them are closed. And that led to a type of depression and burnout. And it was really, really hard. And that is actually what led me into my neurotransmitter like therapy, talking about dopamine, acetylcholine, serotonin Gabba, all of these neurotransmitters that play into supporting mental health and your positive mood and, you know, coming out of it because you can go to [00:11:00] therapy as much as you want. You can talk about it, you can journal as much as you want, but if you’re not supporting the bases, you’re not going to be able to get real solid progress.
And that’s what I realized. And that’s actually what I dove into as I started having these mood disorders resurface as I was going through COVID, essentially the burnout and the depression. Another side story, cause you know, the stories never end. I also had medication resistant acne for 10 years and I don’t want to like be, all woe is me, but you know, people treat you really differently when you have a skin disorder and it’s not easy. When I finally found out, I went through intermittent fasting, I cut out all grains from my diets, I did a ketogenic diet. And when I finally had my first day of like acne free skin, it was like, just everything opened up.
I was like, this is possible. Who knew? Because I was in and out of like, the dermatologist office for like my entire [00:12:00] childhood. That was like the only thing that my mom could afford. And we didn’t even go very often because there was just, and they had to like, give me like the samplers, because we couldn’t afford the medication. And it never worked.
It never worked, nothing ever worked. It was hard, but I did eventually, despite everything that we tried, it was nutrition, lifestyle and supplements that actually fixed my skin. And now I have beautiful, glowing skin.
Doug: Absolutely. I’m curious, how did you first stumble upon nutrition as a way to treat this acne?
Matthew: I originally actually wanted to become a pastry chef. Super, super wild, but in a huge transition, my family were all really active and we all have this.
We all really enjoy food. And I did want to be a pastry chef or something along those lines. But when I went through schooling, I’d realize that I didn’t actually appreciate the hours and the stress and it was really hard. And so I was like, you know what, I love food so I’m going to keep it in my life, but in a different way. So I’m going to transition to nutrition and just keep all of these cooking things [00:13:00] as like a background hobby that I really quite enjoy. And, you know, you’re dietician, nutritionist should love cooking. So for me, that was like a win-win situation.
And so afterwards, when I transitioned to my nutrition programs, I started learning about all these typical government enforced nutrition protocols that they would use. And they would say, you have to do this, this, and this to solve for this. And this is a reason why we avoid saturated fats.
And I actually completed my nutrition training here in Leon, France, where, nutrition is actually not as important as it is in the United States because French health, they have a very robust immune system and they are not a sick country like the United States would be. So you have to pay attention to that a little bit. So my training was a little bit different, but it still did reflect a lot of what I would have learned in the United States. And so I would take what I would learn and I would go home with it and I would try to apply it so that when I would have my clients, I would be able to apply that knowledge.
That being said, I got stuck [00:14:00] and for the first time in my entire life. Okay. So total other side story. I’m going to give you a side note real quick. Excuse me for this. I actually did competitive gymnastics for about 20 years and I was a national champion for power tumbling when I was 19. And so I was fit, you know, despite all of my health problems, I was still physically active and I was still fit. And I think that was the thing that really kept me functioning. it was my saving grace. But when I tried to apply the nutrition that I was learning at school to my diet, it didn’t actually work.
And for the first time in my entire life, you know, I had abs and muscles for my entire life. I applied the nutrition from school and I lost my abs, my skin got bad, my quality of life wasn’t as good. And I was calling my mom from France and she’s in Michigan. And I’m like, mom, what is going on?
I don’t get it. Like I’m following this rules. And she said, Matthew, knuckle down, use your brain, stop messing around, go back to what your diet used to be. And [00:15:00] we ate a high protein diet back home, which was great. We did have carbs, but my mom actually used to be a bodybuilder. So the high protein thing did work.
And so I put my high protein back in and it started the resolution of things coming back to normal. And I was like, okay, obviously there’s something to this nutrition thing. So I’m going to dive in a little bit more. I ended up, going to my internships and one of my French, she was in a sports center. She was my leader in the group that we had. And she said, here are my specialties. And she actually specialized in the ketogenic diet, which was rather new. And she was a doctor that transitioned to diet and lifestyle. And so she gave me a book and I read, and she said, you can either do your report on the ketogenic diet or on fasting.
And I was like, okay, what is it to not eat? What is fasting? And this was like an entirely new concept because when you go through a nutrition program, you’re told three square meals a day and then snacks in between. And God forbid you be hungry and have grains at every [00:16:00] meal and eat the rainbow and avoid saturated fat.
And she just threw the book at me. She was like, everything you learned is wrong and here is an updated version. And it just threw me for a super huge loop. And so I was like, okay, let’s just start with like, not needed. You know, fasting. And so I started intermittent fasting, and that was actually the first time in my entire life where I experienced a reduction in my acne.
She could see the issue and she was like, your acne has gotten a lot better and your skin is looking a lot better because I told her that I was doing the intermittent fasting and she was like, you really need to lean into the ketogenic ratios and you need to get rid of the grains and you need to get rid of the gluten.
I can have bread now that I’ve healed, but when you’re going through the healing process, you have to make sacrifices. And so I made that sacrifice and I was so surprised how fast my skin actually started to pick up.
Matthew: It was like, I was driving with the brakes on. And then all of a sudden, like I took my foot off the brakes and my health just went all the way up. And [00:17:00] I was like, oh my goodness. I still deal with my allergies, but my quality of life skyrocketed. And I was like, okay. And so I was hooked. And so I started reading books.
I was like, what is this all about? And that was like picking her brain. And she gave me all of my resources. And afterwards I lean into the ketogenic lifestyle and ancestral diets and the intermittent fasting. And I used those as my basis for my nutritional protocols. I also use supplementation to help enhance my nutritional protocols because now our food today is less rich in micronutrition and it’s quite hard to get, you know, your daily recommended values or your therapeutic doses of certain vitamins and minerals just through food. You can try, but you can definitely speed up the process, can put your foot on the gas with some supplements and then also lifestyle.
And those are the three main pillars of what I use to help clients today would be my diet protocol, lifestyle protocols, and then supplements to help accelerate the healing.
Doug: And that it’s [00:18:00] so powerful. What really strikes me about your story is that through so many of your experiences, there are so many different areas that you can relate with clients and with people who are struggling with nutrition.
And before I asked you about your work with neuro-transmitters and what you had mentioned about mental health, I’d love to ask one quick question about ketogenics and intermittent fasting. These two things for most people, at least they are things just for weight loss. A lot of us seem to think the only measure of health that we should be constantly monitoring is our weight.
But, I’d love to know a little bit more about how these two practices helps you to solve other problems, with your acne and with other issues in your life.
Matthew: Yeah, absolutely. So I’ve been in this area for so long. It’s almost like, oh my goodness, where do I start? There’s so much to talk about.
So let’s get started on the intermittent fasting first. What the intermittent fasting does is it helps the individual separate their addiction to food. It tells the person, okay, am I actually hungry? It makes the person cognizant of their actual hunger [00:19:00] signals. And then they actually learn what it is to be hungry, they learn what it is to skip a meal, what it is to push a meal back, what it is to then eat after having fasted, what it means to have a glass of water while you’re fasting. What if you had a coffee? What if you had some electrolytes, how does that help? And then it helps the individual take a step back and have a more global view of we’ve lived in this calorie surplus for our entire life. We’ve been fed, fed, fed, and for someone to go without calories can be really eye-opening. And especially for someone that is not used to intermittent fasting, there are a handful of people out there that naturally don’t eat morning cause they’re just not hungry and fantastic for that.
For me, that was a foreign concept. I would eat every few hours and I had protein bars with me all the time. I would have a meal to prevent hunger later. If I was to go grocery shopping or if I was going to go out and have an activity, I’d have a meal before just in case, so I didn’t get hungry, you [00:20:00] know? And so this intermittent fasting, it tells person it’s okay not to eat. And then what the intermittent fasting also does is it helps regulate your insulin and it helps address insulin resistance and it helps stabilize blood sugar levels. And it does a myriad of health benefits that are both physiological on the basis of fat and carb metabolism, but also psychological, which help the relationship with food.
So now to go over towards the ketogenic side of things, when someone goes from a carbon-based metabolism or a carb based diet to a ketogenic based diet, you’re essentially switching fuel sources. You’re going from eating grains and sugar based foods that break down into glucose in the body, which provides energy to ketones, which it’s a certain kind of energy that you drive from fats.
And so what basically that looks like is a ketogenic diet basically it looks like meats and vegetables cooked and fat, and you have a non sugary drink with it. Whether it be water, coffee, tea, you know, an infusion or [00:21:00] anything along those lines. And that is the encompassing, you know, big lines of the diets.
When you go into ketogenic ratios that really helps stabilize blood sugar, it helps reduce inflammation. And these are the main big problems when we talk about health, when we talk about someone having neuropathy, skin problems, POTS. I’m not sure if you know what POTS is. POTS has really low blood pressure.
If you were to ever, for example, get up really fast from your couch and you got that blackening in your eyes, that’s like kind of what POTS is. It’s really low energy. And it’s really low blood pressure and it’s incredible muscle fatigue on top of that, you know, there’s inability to move.
You go into the gut microbiome as well. And so everything that’s digestive and everything that is involved in digestion. So if you go from a carb based metabolism to a ketogenic based diet, you are basically switching your gut microbiome. You have three sets of microbes in your gut.
You have your beneficial, and we love these guys. They can feed [00:22:00] on anything. They can feed on carbs, protein, and fat. And they are just the best. Then you have your opportunistic and you have your pathogenic. Your opportunistic microbes, those will feed on carbs and starch mainly. And then your pathogenic, those will put you in the hospital within 24 hours.
Usually people aren’t worried about that. So our main battle is between the opportunistic bacteria and the beneficial bacteria, because the opportunistic bacteria only feed on starch. They will influence your gut and your cravings. And I know it can sound very like, sure, whatever you say, dude. But there are studies that have been done and your gut microbiome really does influence your health and your behavior.
And so basically what you do as you transitioned from, you know, a carb based diet to a ketogenic based diet is you effectively change that metabolism and you take the power away from these opportunistic bacteria that are controlling your cravings, and you saying, oh, I want these bread chips, carbs, you know, name your snack, whatever, fast food, processed foods.
And you reinforce your healthy gut microbiome [00:23:00] that enables your health. And that pulls your gut together and that doesn’t keep you victim to your cravings. You want to be the one that’s mastering when you have your meals. You don’t want to be at the mercy of your opportunistic bacteria saying, oh, you need to have this because I miss this.
Or when you started to have these types of cravings, I want you to have a donut or anything. And usually, what’s really quite interesting is that when you starve off these opportunistic bacteria for long enough, you’ll actually start to have dreams. And you’ll go to bed and you’ll say, I had the weirdest dream last night. I am not a donut eater, but you know what I had dream about donuts last night, and that tells you that you’re starting off those bacteria because they are so starving that it will say, get me those donuts. That’s my example cause that’s what I personally had. I’m not a donut eater, that’s how my thing, you know, I liked cookies and I liked other like starchy things, but donuts were not my thing, but I had dreams about donuts. And so I was doing keto and that’s what I experienced.
And so this just opened up my entire world to like, wow, food is so powerful. Nutrition is so powerful and manipulating it is so [00:24:00] interesting as to how it influences your health.
Doug: Yeah, I think that is so fascinating. Thank you for sharing that. And for listeners, you know, I’ve had others talk about the ketogenic diet and intermittent fasting just briefly.
But I think if you’re interested in these things, not only for weight loss, but for other health benefits, I really think that you should reach out to Matt and learn a little bit more. I love to explore what you mentioned before the podcast about neurotransmitters.
And you mentioned before in your story about feeling trapped in your home, feeling trapped in your mental health. And for many of us, we may not have experienced that, you know, I have in my past, but many listeners the first time they had that experience of perhaps having no control or limited control was when they had that lockdown. Whether they were in minor lockdown or major lockdown in some major cities, it affects all of us.
And I’d love to know about with your work with neuro-transmitters, I’d love to know kind of the foundations of your work with mental health.
Matthew: Yeah, absolutely. So just to reiterate, I got my first star in mental health when I was working with my own ADHD and my own anxiety. I ended up [00:25:00] resolving that and then I had to come back to it for COVID to address my burnout. So low motivation is what burnout is and that’s a dopamine problem. And then it also had to work on depression. And that was just a whole another, oh, no, no. I mean, I think everyone has experienced some level of depression through COVID.
It definitely threw everyone for a loop. So I was already in my remission for my allergies. And for all of the things that I talked about previously, I had already resolved all my skin problems. I had already resolved my allergies and I was actively healthy.
And then I found myself falling into depression and falling into, the burnout of work and just general life. I had no motivation for anything. And I was like, okay, I have to back off. There’s something is wrong because you have to sit in the depression for a little bit before you say, oh, hang on.
I can’t, you know, you’re sitting in a muddy pool of negative thoughts. You’re like, oh wait, what am I doing? Like get up, brush this off, come on, pull yourself up by your bootstraps. So I try to do my depression first [00:26:00] because I hated being depressed and it did not work.
It did not stick. So I actually had to switch gears and I had to say, okay, I’m going to put a pin in it. And I’m going to come back to the depression. Let’s try some burnout stuff and that addresses my motivation. And so, I already knew what to do for the motivation. I had never experienced depression before.
So I thought it was my first priority, but it wasn’t. Once I started to address my burnout, the depression almost resolved itself all on its own. So it really came to be quite secondary actually for my burnouts and for supporting, you know, dopamine and when someone has burnout. Burnout is basically your lack of drive, motivation, going to seek out something.
It’s your purpose. It’s the same neurotransmitter dopamine that enabled our ancestors to go out and hunt and scavenge for food and for, you know, like partners and to survive. It’s your survival instinct. So dopamine is something that’s been present throughout all of our evolution. [00:27:00] When I started looking up dopamine protocols, there were a few things that really, really helped. So my diet, I had to do an elimination diet.
I did my ketogenic and I did my intermittent fasting by also included meat broth. So I did ancestral type diets through this healing soups. And that was through the gaps type of protocols. So that would be the gaps diet. And I’m a very big fan of that. But for the burnout, I actually found out that cold therapy was quite powerful in that. So I am not someone to go dive into an icy lake and, you know, this was happening in the summertime. And so it was a little bit different for me. So every morning I stuck my head under a cold faucet and it definitely, it will come you up, so that really helped.
Afterwards, I also had to work on some antioxidants and you know, this is all my personal experience. This is not like my advice. This is just what works for me obviously. I did selenium and I did ALA, and selenium is an antioxidant and it’s a mineral, and ALA is a fatty [00:28:00] acid.
And then I did some vitamin B6. That’s really helpful for burnout and dopamine. And then I also did this infusion, it’s called St. John’s wort and St. John’s wort is a loose leaf tea. And you drink it an hour before you go to bed and it helps with dopamine regulation. So I did that. And honestly, once I started doing that, it just all started falling together.
And I started feeling fantastic. I was like, oh my goodness. It kept reinforcing the power of nutrition and how influential it can be. Then afterwards for the depression, I didn’t really do a whole much for it afterwards. But I did have to like really focus on lifestyle stuff, you know, getting sunlight in my eyes, going for walks.
But yeah, it fell into place and it was very interesting having that. And then, that led me to reading other books on neuro-transmitter protocols and how to support serotonin, how to support the dopamine like we previously talked about, how to support GABA to help you relax and to control anxiety, how to support acetylcholine.
You know, there’s a wide variety of therapies that can really help. [00:29:00] Another supplement that actually help that I feel as important for me to mention, I had endorphin deficiency syndrome, you know, when I talked about I would cry because the sky was blue when I was little. I’m still, I’m quite sensitive, but I would cry at the drop of a hat even throughout my entire adult life.
And it was a major character flaw for me. I was so sensitive and I was so frustrated at myself that I was like, dang it, Matthew put together, oh my goodness. Like, why are you crying at this? Why are you teary eyed? Pull it together, man. I started supplementing with DLPA, which is an amino acid if you know alanine, and that actually was like, it was a lifesaver.
It was fantastic. And it also helped with brain fog. And so, there’s that.
Doug: It’s fascinating. And talking about these supplements and supporting neuro-transmitter health, for someone who is just getting started in perhaps improving their mental health, whether it’s depression, anxiety, or burnout, or another issue, what would be a great starting place for them?
Would it be to do research? Would it be to reach out to an expert? Would it be to experiment and do elimination diets?
Matthew: Great question. It all depends on who we’re talking to. If [00:30:00] the person has an interest, I would be more than happy to say, do your own research and figure it out.
There are so many act outs online. There are so many books I highly recommend. So some people get stuck in the loop of looking at online posts and you know, these blogs and these are written by everyday people. They’re not published and they have no authority behind the most of, you know, it’s from someone that you know of.
If you’re struggling with depression or something along those lines, anxiety, or what have you, I would actually go towards books first. And so there are a few books out there that are really inviting and you can always, pick and choose your chapters that you read first. You are more than welcome to flip it to the middle of a book and say, what does it say about dopamine and what can I do about this?
So three main books that I would actually recommend. If I may, I have a few books, I actually prepared it. So the first one is called the mood cure. This one is really, really helpful for anyone that has problems with like emotional eating that has over-sensitive feelings.
That was one of the main reasons why I picked this book up, and then it [00:31:00] helps with anxiety and stress and depression. Another book for mood stuff. It’s Why Isn’t My Brain Working. This is another fantastic book. And then another book would be the gaps diet, Gut and Psychology Syndrome. You can’t really see it cause my ring light. And then a fourth book is Nutrient Power. And all four books really, really open your eyes.
And I’m not gonna lie to you. It’s a lot of pages. But if someone is listening to this type of podcasts, they’re interested in the health aspects, they’re interested in books. And I’m not saying you have to read all four. What I’m saying is that there are resources out there.
And if you are saying, okay, I’ve got depression and you flipped it, a depression chapter on each of these books, you’ve got an arsenal, you’ve got a protocol, you’ve got a direction. And a lot of these people, they go online and they lack direction. They lack an idea of where to start so that they have progress that they can count on later.
They don’t know if they should buy a certain supplement or if they should stop eating gluten or if they should stop eating, you know, fill in the blank. The problem with going online is you don’t know what you’re going to get, and you don’t know if you can trust it.
And these people would not have been publishing [00:32:00] books if it didn’t work. And so there is some power behind that, and you always get testimonials. And you can always trust these testimonials a little bit more. I have a little bit more weight to their words, because you know that they wouldn’t have been published if it wasn’t true.
If not, what the person can do is they can also go to a professional that’s worked through it themselves. So that would be something along the lines of, if you are struggling with depression, for example, you find someone that has depression that has resolved it. And you say, what did you do to work through this?
Matthew: You know, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You don’t have to figure it out all by yourself. You’re not in this all alone. There are people that have done it and you have to ask and you have to go out and you have to make the first step forward. Because if you have depression, no one’s going to say, you’re depressed, take this supplement to make you feel better. You have to say to the professional, I’m depressed. I need help. So there are a few things that you can do. I would always recommend going to a professional first, especially if you’re dealing with something that’s pretty major.
You know, I take clients as well. But if you are a more curious type, I absolutely recommend reading books.[00:33:00]
Doug: And that’s such a strong distinction. Thank you for sharing those resources. For those who aren’t watching this on YouTube, all of those books that Matthew held up and mentioned, those will be in the description on the show notes if you’d like to check them out.
And Matthew, I’d love to ask, we talked about mood and nutrition, but to get a little bit of the idea of how our nutrition actually impacts our mood, what’s kind of the science behind it? How does what we eat impacts how we feel, our energy levels, our neuro-transmitters, how does that actually happen?
Matthew: Oh my goodness.
Such a big question. Such good questions. So, I always like to backup because sometimes it can be too big of a subject for first-time listeners. And when I say the gut brain connection, sometimes people are going to like, what are you talking about? And so I’ll say, okay. So if I were to have a drink, eventually that alcohol is going to go into my system and that’s going to influence my brain. And so there’s your first example of the gut brain connection. How beverage and food influence your mental state and eventually your health. Second would be people that love chocolate.
So [00:34:00] you get spikes in dopamine, for example, with certain things. When you have a square of chocolate, you’ll get a small bump in dopamine, which says, oh my God, this is so good. I love this. And they will just like have that chocolate. And then afterwards you’ll have a slight dip.
Matthew: And then after that, slight dip you’ll be like, you know what that slight dip feels like? It feels like another piece of chocolate, or you’re gonna have another piece of chocolate. It’s gonna give you another bump and dopamine. And then you’re going to keep writing this, like dopamine, like a peak and valley.
And then you’re going to be surfing your telephone. You know, you’re going to be scrolling through Instagram, all these social media, you’re going to be tapping through Netflix, seeing what your new favorite shows doing, and then you’re gonna be spreading your attention. And you’re going to be going into like these like ADHD tendencies. And you think that you’re not being damaging to yourself because you’re quote unquote relaxing, but it’s actually not helpful.
When you do these types of things, you divide yourself out into too many spaces. And so, for example, so for me to come back to the chocolate, having these continual dips and [00:35:00] peaks, that’s eventually going to cause you to crash, and you’re going to resort to chocolate to get your dopamine fix.
You can get your dopamine fix also through drinking. You can get it very acutely. You can get it through sex, you can get it through cigarettes. And so usually you get that combination. You get the people that, you know, they’ll have sex, and then afterwards they’ll have this post coital dip in mood and they’ll feel weirdly alone, even they just spent time with their partner. And that’s your dopamine refractory period. You know, you hit your high and now you’ve had your low spot. This is also what happens when a woman who gives birth they’ll have a postpartum depression.
They’ve had this ecstasy high of a dopamine load by giving birth and having this so joyous moments, you’ve brought life to earth. Oh my goodness, you couldn’t be happier. And then all of a sudden, oh my goodness, you can’t get off the couch. You’re depressed. And it’s not your fault because you gave birth like that’s a miracle. But if you don’t have the resources in your [00:36:00] body to support your dopamine, then you’re going to fall into, you know, postpartum depression. The same thing actually happens with like, sports events? So like, if you were to do like a marathon or if you did do like a big sports endeavor like a CrossFit for example. You’d go through a competition and you were to give yourself, you know, a hundred percent and you were like, you won.
And like you had the big victory. And then two weeks later, you’re like on the couch, burned out. You’re like, what’s going on? I was on top of my game. And then all of a sudden here I am, Mr. Couch potato. Well, that’s your dopamine, it’s the same thing. Your dopamine’s going up, you had your peak and then it’s fallen down.
And actually, that’s actually quite common with like Olympic athletes and high-level athletes. You’ll find them. They’ll say, Oh, yeah, I was in shape when I went to the Olympics and then I came back and I had a year long break, but now I’m ready to come back. And that’s because it took them a year or, you know, six months or three months or whatever to rebound because Having all that dopamine uses up your nutritional stores and you have to rebuild those stories afterwards.
Matthew: And if your diet doesn’t satisfy those nutritional stores, then you’re going to stay in a low [00:37:00] dopamine state and you’re not going to get better. And that’s where people get stuck because they feel like they’re just stuck in this low dopamine area and there are a few things that people can use. DOPA mucuna is supplement that’s really, really helpful. Antioxidants are also helpful, like the selenium and the ALA that I previously mentioned. Some people really, really find help in vitamin C or even like glutathione or PQQ. I’m just giving out examples here. And then B6 is another one that’s really quite helpful or just a really well balanced B complex can also really help. If you’re finding that your dopamine isn’t working after a while or efficiently, like you’ve got a dip in energy, I really highly encourage every individual that’s saying, this is me. Go out and figure out what is missing. And sometimes I know this is going to sound really, you know, like, oh my God, like, are you serious?
But you have to do trial and error. You have to find the cocktail of supplements that works for you and the diet that works for you. There are general things that work for everyone. I have not seen anyone get better, you know, in my experience with the clients that [00:38:00] I have. Zero clients have gotten better while consuming gluten. So I’ll put that out there.
You also want to pay attention to lectins. Lectins are these plant compounds in a certain amount of plants that hurt your immune system. And if you take these outs that helps your immune system rebuild and it can, you know, the body being all connected, it helps reestablish nice gut lining because your dopamine is produced in the gut as well.
And then it helps reproduce that dopamine at an easier, more baseline level. And then afterwards, if you still are stuck, I would recommend going to a professional. But there are a few things that you can start with. Dopamine is made up of amino acids.
So you have to have high enough protein in your diet. And then you have to have a limitation of the bad foods, the processed foods. Stop eating things that come in plastic.
Doug: This has been fascinating. And there’s so many questions, you know, I’d love to dive deeper in, but I’d love to touch back on the questions that, you know, kind of form the framework of this podcast.
I’d love to know about your specific practice. What does your process look like when you’re working with clients?
Matthew: Absolutely. [00:39:00] So they would come to my website. So Cress Dietetics, and they would sign up for an intake meeting. And with that intake meeting, they would submit a form where it explain what’s going on, how they’re feeling, or if they have other health problems that they’re trying to work through. And then they’ll be provided an email that they can send any labs that they’ve had done over as well. They’ll submit it, they’ll pay for it. I’ll get the paperwork, and then I’ll look through it.
I’ll memorize it. I’ll say, oh, wow. It looks like their serotonins in the gutters or, wow they have high anxiety. So we need to work on their Gabba or maybe they have some food allergy or maybe they have some neuropathy or, you know, fill in the blank. And then what will happen is afterwards we’ll meet, we’ll have our face-to-face, you know, on zoom or whatever platform we’re using.
And I’ll ask some questions that I have based on their profile so I can get a better understanding of how they are on a day-to-day basis and what their actual symptoms are, what can be causing their actual symptoms. [00:40:00] And then afterwards, I will say, okay, listen, this is what’s going on.
You have inflammation, you have this, this or this, you have, this is your problem. Okay. And they would double check to make sure that they agree with me. Does this sound like this is congruent with what you’re feeling? And usually I get like a yes or like, that sounds right. And then I’ll say, okay.
So because of this problem here, the solution is this. We have to rebuild your immune system. We have to rebuild your nervous system. We have to refill your amino acids. You are lacking essential fatty acids. You know, there’s just a wide variety of things. This is the reason why you are not feeling well in this area.
So we’re going to give you a diet that optimizes that, that gets rid of all the negative, that brings also the positive. That helps you detox, but it helps you rebuild your foundation of health. And then I also give them lifestyle techniques. You can’t come to me for depression and then walk away and say, okay, I have bedrest. No, depression is treated by going outside, getting sunlight in your [00:41:00] eyes and walking. So there is a lifestyle protocol that also comes with it.
And I hold my clients accountable to that. I tell them if you do not do this, I will not meet with you because I can’t have you as a client saying, I went through Matthew’s protocol, but it didn’t work. If you didn’t do it. So I think that’s probably why I get such a good amount of feedback.
And I get these clients that come in and out and they say, oh wow. You know, like, he’s really on top of it. And I think that’s what is really needed especially for someone that’s working on a mood disorder. They need structure. A lot of these people, they need structure and they need someone to say, listen, I’m going to mom you.
You know, regardless, I’m going to mom, you, and I’m gonna tell you, listen, because sometimes as adults, we lack structure. And because you’re an adult, you can say, mom didn’t tell me to finish my plate, but I’m still going to go ahead and dessert. It happens to everyone. If you don’t have that sense of structure, you don’t have that person behind you saying, you can’t do this because of X, Y, and Z, then you fall into negative habits that don’t help the depression or the anxiety or the, [00:42:00] you know, fill in the blank. So I help them with accountability and that really helps.
And then, so what’ll happen is we’ll have our conversation. After our meeting, I’ll send them home with a protocol that will have a diet and recipes, and it will give them the opportunity to start their diets. And then I’ll give them about a week or two to get situated in the diet, to get started on the recipes and to get a handle on how, where, what is sticking.
What’s easy and what’s not. And then we’ll meet at week two or whenever they’re field ready. Sometimes it’s week one as well. And we’ll do an update. We’ll see what’s working, what’s not, what’s difficult, what’s easy. And I’ll modify to make the hard things easier. And I’ll say, you’re doing a great job, but you need to do this a little bit better.
And I want you to report back to me in three days, telling me how this worked for you. And they’re like, oh my God, he’s not kidding. And so then, we’ll meet every so often and then after they have it down and they’re on the full diet for two weeks, we’ll look at mood, we’ll look at [00:43:00] supplements for mood because sometimes mood really, really helped just by eliminating gluten or just by increasing the amount of protein that you’re having, or just by making sure that you’re getting the right kinds of fats in your diet.
And so, they may come in with like anxiety, and sometimes there’ll be like having seven symptoms and then we will come in for their update and we’ll be saying, okay, it’s week two, let’s look at your mood. How is your mood? They’ll say, you know what, like my depression, my burnout is really quite good actually.
But I’d like to work on my anxiety. That seems to be something that’s not budging as much. And so I’ll say, great, let’s work on your anxiety. And then I’ll give them some supplements for, you know, working on GABA, how to properly relax, how to put their phone on airplane mode, how to properly organize their lifestyle so that they can optimize their neurotransmitters.
Doug: Ah, that’s fantastic. And with your varied experience, who do you tend to work with most often and what kind of issues do they have?
Matthew: Yeah, for my mood people, I usually get people around the ages of like in their twenties or thirties that have struggled with like [00:44:00] ADHD, anxiety, even bipolar disorder, or, so many things.
I usually get people in that age range that are sick of it. And they’re like, oh my goodness, like, let’s figure this out. Cause I can’t do this forever. Like, you know, someone do something and so, they’ll come in and I will help them. But I would say that’s the majority of my client.
Meaning, it is a good section of my clients, but I also work with like so many other like health problems, like COVID or neuropathy or skin problems. And a lot of the times people will come in and they’ll say, Hey, I have this issue, but I also have anxiety and I’ll address both. And sometimes people like coming to me cause I’ll take everything into consideration.
I’m not just going to say, oh, well, I’ll take care of your anxiety, but you got to go somewhere else for your other problem.
Doug: And we talked about, what separates your practice and what other common issues that you work with. I’d love to know, what do you think is the most important thing to know about perhaps nutrition and the whole package of our mental and physical health is?
Matthew: Yeah. So a lot of the times, you’re going to have a lot of [00:45:00] people in your ear saying, do A, B and C, do this or that. And that can be frustrating cause you’re having too many voices coming at you all at once. What I would recommend is stop because there are too many voices and it’s really frustrating.
There have never been so many sick people in I would say the history of the world. I would recommend that whatever you do, you need to back up and you need to eat a diet that your great great-grandmother would recognize as she was a child. I always tell people that we have strayed way too far from holistic foods that are congruent with, you know, health.
And we do need supplements today because the food that we’re eating today is not as nutrient dense as it used to be a hundred years ago. The steak that your great-grandmother ate, that came from a cow that she knew the name of down the street, or, you know, the neighboring farm. That steak had way more nutrition in it than the steak that you get today at your butcher or at your supermarket. So you have to pay attention to that.
A [00:46:00] lot of times I’ll tell people, stop eating processed foods, stop eating seed oils is one of my main things as well, and eat as if you lived on a farm. And what that does is it reduces a lot of my practices down to a very common base because it tells you, if you were to live in a farm, you have to eat seasonally.
You would have enough animal protein in your diet. You would have a sufficient amount of eggs. If you were to have a grain, it would have to go through so much processing. You cannot have bread if you did not take all of those wheat grains and process them yourself. You have the access that you have to bread is unprecedented.
Beforehand, everyone had to work really hard for these calories. And so I would also say, don’t be afraid. Be open-minded about eating on a more ancestral diet. And so that would be where I would start with most people.
Matthew: That would be my main thing. Oh. And then also, because we do live in a toxic world, the amount of cars that are driven and, you know, pollution. [00:47:00] Detoxification is really, really important. And if you’re not detoxifying, I think that you’re leaving progress behind and detoxifying would be something along the lines of getting like a lymphatic massage or doing an Epsom salt bath or doing red light therapy or meditation or something along those lines that helps you detoxify the negativity that builds up in the system.
Doug: That’s excellent. And looking at your own practice at your website. Do you have any resources, tips, or tools that listeners at home can use in their own homes.
Matthew: Yeah. So I’m actually in the process of building my own website. And I’m assuming that by the time this podcast episode goes live, I’m hoping that my website will be up there.
Oh, I do have a Twitter account and it’s @CressDietetics, and you can always go there and ask me, you can DM me. That’s perfectly fine. But then I do also plan, I’m making a little store for people so that they can get guides.
Matthew: And then I’ll have a blog and that will do my book recommendations and that will give people resources so that they know what direction they should be going in if they have depression or if they [00:48:00] have ADHD. There are so many mood disorders out there, you know, even going into schizophrenia or going into bipolar disorder. Schizophrenia, that’s something that is you have to be ketogenic for that. It’s almost less important that the other supplements be taken care of, but like you have to be ketogenic. And that’s actually one of the main things and actually the ketogenic diet was a diet that was made to help with epilepsy. These seizures were controlled through a low carbohydrate ketogenic diet.
And so you can see the power of kids and a diet on the brain because it’s used to stop the epilepsy. And it’s used to control these certain mood disorders, which can be quite severe actually.
Doug: That’s fantastic. And thank you so much for sharing that. And finally, Matthew, this conversation, it was a great. Listeners, I really encourage you to check out Matthew’s work because my mind has been blown with this conversation. And there are so many things that I’d love to learn more about. Matthew, do you have any advice, whether, you know, uncommon or otherwise that you’d like to leave listeners with?
Matthew: Yeah. So in the context for [00:49:00] neurotransmitter protocols and working on mental health, one of the main things that I always try to leave my clients, or whoever I’m talking to with is you become what you think.
And I know it sounds really vague, but whatever your thought process is, that is what you will become. Very often, doctors act like, someone that’s going to tell you, you have this, like you are bipolar disorder, and they give you a title. And it’s really unfortunate because you think, cause you walk out of the doctor’s office and you say, wow, I have, and you make it a part of your identity.
And as soon as you say, this is not my identity, I am not my bipolar disorder. I am healing. I am, strong-willed. I am happy. I am joyous. I am positive. I am prosperous. I am joyful. I am manifesting positivity. The more you do that, the better your life gets. And I am not kidding you. When I was working on my own depression, doing positive affirmations changed my life.
it was part of the reason why I was able to pull myself up by my bootstraps [00:50:00] because I had sat down in this like muddy pool of negativity and my brain was muddy and negative. And I had bad thoughts about myself and that’s so sad and it’s just this perpetual vicious cycle of negativity.
Matthew: But if you don’t break the cycle, it will continue. You have to break the cycle and you have to have a day one or else it will continue and you will still be depressed the next day. The morning of the first thing you do, you wake up, your eyes open, you have consciousness, you put on your positive affirmations on self-esteem, on prosperity, on confidence, on whatever it is that you’re working on.
And you say them out loud, you journal, you scream it from the rooftop. You listen to your favorite album, you do everything that makes you happy. You have to be proactive in your mental health. You can’t just say, I’m depressed. Give me this supplement to make me not depressed. It helps, but you have to transform your own brain so that it can actually have the progress.
Doug: For sure.
Matthew, thank you so much for this [00:51:00] conversation. It’s been fantastic.
Matthew: Completely. My pleasure. I thank you for having me.
Doug: Thank you again, Matt, for that great information, I was truly blown away by this fantastic conversation.
And if you also were interested in learning more about those resources, I encourage you to check out the description. Because all of those links and all of those resources will be there for you. And if you gained a nugget of wisdom or insight from this conversation, I encourage you to subscribe. Click the plus sign on that podcasting app or click the bell if you’re watching on YouTube, because you won’t want to miss the awesome episodes that are coming up next. And while you’re there on that podcasting app, feel free to leave us a review. Even if it’s just a one word, five star review on apple podcasts. Wherever you review this podcast really helps to increase the visibility of this show and helps get this information in the hands of people just like you who really need this information to change their lives.
Again, thank you Matt Cress for joining me today. My name is Doug Sans and I help compulsive and [00:52:00] emotional eaters to end the obsession with food and make peace with it. Often in as little as two sessions. Thank you so much for joining me for this episode. And I look forward to seeing you in the next one.
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