Kimberley Wilson, Psychologist on How To Build A Healthy Brain

Mind, Podcast

In this episode of the DOSE podcast, we talk to Kimberley Wilson, Psychologist and author of How To Build A Healthy Brain.

Kimberley Wilson is a Chartered Psychologist, former finalist on the Great British Bake Off and an award-winning food producer with a degree in nutrition.

Her work looks at the role food and lifestyle plays in our mental health, including disordered eating, the gut-brain axis and our emotional relationship with food. Her first book How To Build A Healthy Brain is a must read for anyone looking to learn how to reduce stress, anxiety and depression and future-proof their brain.

In this podcast, we discuss everything from the importance of breathing and the vagus nerve to emotional management, stress inoculation and how exercise builds psychological resilience.

On emotional management

Kimberley is passionate about getting more people to talk about how they are feeling. “Too many people try to repress their emotions and the way they feel”, she says. In the UK, she puts this down to a hangover from Victorian times of a stiff upper lip mentality, where we aren’t supposed to show emotions and instead, keep everything inside. “I meet people who even in the quiet of the therapy room will apologise for crying” because they see it as a sign of weakness. She hints at the danger of this by stating that “suppressing feelings has been shown to have measurable detrimental effects on physical and mental wellbeing”.

On exercise and psychological resilience

Kimberley discusses how simply being physically active can make us more resilient to psychological stress. “When you go to the gym and stress your physiological system, you release a small, manageable amount of stress and your body responds by getting stronger. This in turn affects your brain, as when your whole system is more resilient, your brain doesn’t have to work as hard when it comes across something difficult”.

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On the role of endorphins, our bodies “in built pain relief”, also associated with feelings of joy and euphoria, she says “It’s really beautiful in terms of the evolution of it. Your body says, if you go through this stressful thing, it’s important and valuable for you. Exercise is not comfortable when you’re doing it, but to take the pain away, the body gives you a runner’s high, as an incentive for you to do it again, because overall it’s really valuable for the health of the system”.

Other topics covered in the podcast include the role of the vagus nerve, serotonin and the brain gut connection, as well as the darker side to love hormone oxytocin.

This podcast is in partnership with Alaska Seafood. Alaska, the large, sparsely populated US state, is one of the world’s largest seafood exporters. Seafood from Alaska is 100% wild, natural and sustainable.

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