The statement “you are what you eat” is only partially true. The statement should be “you are what you Absorb”. This statement can reflect those substances which are harmful or helpful to the body.
When assessing a patient for disease states, it is essential to consider one’s diet as well as the ability to adequately break down food particles and turn it into the necessary building blocks needed to run the body efficiently. This concept is very apparent when considering fatigue and depression and their potential relation to adequate and specific amino acid levels in the body.
Part of the problem with our ability to adequately make this link and diagnosis exists in our failure in medicine to recall the biochemistry we were once taught in medical school. An old mentor of mine use to say “the only diagnosis you will miss is the one you don’t think of”, referring to our need to continue to read and expand our differential diagnosis. To be sure, we were taught the biochemistry, but have unfortunately, yet conveniently embraced a “pharmaceutical prescription for every malady” mentality.
Be sure to consider the probability of amino acid deficiency in the consideration of causes of depression and fatigue. For example, amino acids are an absolute requirement for the synthesis of hemoglobin (which carries oxygen in the blood), neurotransmitters (the chemicals on which your nervous system run), your hormones (which control your metabolism).
A great example of this is apparent in the loss of Glutamine in the diet and subsequent effect it has on gluconeogenesis (a vital metabolic pathway that creates glucose for energy and maintains blood sugar levels). Glutamine is also integral in the production of glutathione (an incredible substance which is Neuroprotective, a strong antioxidant, and involved as a detoxification substance in the body).
Another common example is the extreme fatigue persons who over exercise may experience from the excess loss of Isoleucine, Leucine, and Valine which are essential in skeletal muscle health. If you are exhibiting signs or symptoms of fatigue and depression, do not assume that you absolutely need a prescription or are in fact, clinically depressed until you get your amino acids (and potentially your vitamin levels) assessed. There are tests which give reliable quantitative levels and assessment of these vital building blocks.
Eating the right protein and having a healthy gastrointestinal tract to digest and assimilate the food into the correct nutrient building blocks can actually be the keys to improving or correcting your depression or fatigue.