How structural racism is robbing minorities of health and longevity.

Illustration by: Kiran Nijjer

The murder of George Floyd by a white police officer kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes, with three other officers enabling the death, was both a heinous act and a vivid metaphor for what racism is doing to the health outcomes of racialized persons in the United States, and how we as a country have been responding. The burgeoning public health research examining the differential impact of racism on American’s health has established beyond doubt that racial discrimination, in multiple forms, leads to higher levels of disease and shorter lifespans for people of color. …


How the pandemic will reshape the mental health landscape in America.

Illustration by: Getty Images, featuring photograph from Luka T.

It is no secret that America’s approach to mental healthcare has never been inadequate. Rather than being proactive, it is fundamentally reactive, and the current COVID-19 pandemic throws this into stark relief. There is an epidemic of mental illness brewing in America, and it will not go away when lockdowns are lifted. Does the country have what it takes to turn this potential disaster into a renaissance for our mental health system?

In an April 14 article, Garen Staglin notes that in the present crisis, “ everyone is being encouraged to manage symptoms of stress and anxiety stemming from new…


Illustration by: Kiran Nijjer

The COVID-19 outbreak in the United States has shone a spotlight on America’s economic inequalities, and a fragile social safety net that will leave vulnerable communities to bear the economic brunt of the crisis. An underreported issue is the disproportionate effect the pandemic will have on people of color and the poor in America. This will be the case in terms of infection and deaths, job losses, crashing incomes, and food oppression.

While the virus infects people regardless of wealth, the poor will be most affected due to longstanding segregation by income and race, reduced economic mobility, and the high…


The Lethal Inequalities Permeating Our Food System.

Illustration by: Kiran Nijjer

We know all too well the many visible forms of racism in American society. Police brutality against people of color is rife. Disproportionate incarceration of non-whites is being acknowledged and interrogated. Inequities in income and opportunity are readily discernible and are garnering increasing attention, although not yet enough action. And the list goes on. Yet millions of African Americans and Hispanics are killed every year by an almost invisible form of racism, a silent and insidious injustice: food inequality.

In America, 1.3% of all deaths are caused by gun violence. But a staggering 70% of deaths are caused by chronic…


How Intestinal Health Affects Neurological Function.

Illustration by: Getty Images, featuring photograph from Andrew Brookes.

What Is the Gut–Brain Axis?

Intestinal health is quickly becoming one of the most critical components in maintaining optimal well-being, including mental/emotional as well as physical. In recent years, it has become more common to refer to the gut as our “second brain,” meaning it can engage in neurological activity independently from the central nervous system. At any given moment, the brain and the gut are in complex, essential communication, giving rise to a two-way flow of information called the gut–brain axis.

The “second brain” — in technical parlance, the enteric nervous system (ENS) — controls the gastrointestinal (GI) system…


How Your Food Can Affect Your Mental Health.

Illustration by: Getty Images, featuring photograph from Lorenzo Antonucci.

Depression levels are at an all-time high. Among people aged 15 to 45, depressive disorders are the leading cause of disability worldwide. In 2020, depression will for the first time be the top cause of disability in the US.

Not until relatively recently has serious, systematic clinical attention been paid to the role of diet in mental health in terms of prevention, causation, and treatment. Now, there is such recognition of the importance of diet for mental health that a new field of medicine has arisen: nutritional psychiatry.

An overview of this emerging field, published in November 2019 by the…


A new frontier for brain function and mental health.

Illustration by: Getty Images, featuring photograph from John M Lund.

A decade ago, the notion that the bacteria in your gut could guide your behavior and mental health was regarded as bizarre. Yet today, it’s well established that the trillions of microbes in the gastrointestinal tract — collectively known as the microbiota — influence health in countless ways. Inside the gut, these microscopic masters help us make nutrients, program the developing immune system, defend against infection, and produce neurochemicals important for brain function.

The term “psychobiotics” was introduced in 2012 by Professor Ted Dinan of University College Cork, in Ireland, one of the field’s pioneers. …


What You Need to Know about Probiotics and Prebiotics.

Illustration by: Kiran Nijjer, featuring photograph from Syolacan via Getty Images.

You probably see the words “probiotic” and “prebiotic” constantly these days, touted as the next great things for promoting good intestinal health. It’s true — they can be tremendously beneficial for your Gastrointestinal tract’s existing microorganisms. But they can also boost your overall health and be used to treat or prevent a huge range of diseases and conditions. Read on to learn about what these tiny heroes are and how they can help you.

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms introduced into the gut for health, often called “friendly bacteria.” Trillions of microorganisms live in your digestive tract, forming…


SIBO and How You Can Fix It.

Illustration by: Kiran Nijjer, featuring photograph from Pinterest.

Do you feel bloated and nauseous some of the time, or even worse, all of the time? If you have a “food baby” after your meals along with abdominal pain and fatigue, then you want to read this. You might have SIBO.

What is SIBO?

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is a serious condition that occurs when there is an abnormally high amount of bacteria in the small intestine. SIBO is generally not caused by a single type of bacteria but rather an overgrowth of the various types of bacteria that should normally be found much lower down, in the…


Dangers, Identification, and Treatment.

Illustration by: Kiran Nijjer, featuring photograph from Miles Aldrige via The New York Times.

A host of chronic, sometimes severe diseases trace back to intestinal hyper-permeability, or “leaky gut”. But what precisely are the effects of these measures, and what do we do next?

What Is Leaky Gut?

The digestive system consists of many organs, including the large and small intestines, which collectively break down food, absorb nutrients and water, and remove waste products. “Leaky gut” describes a malfunctioning of the intestinal wall, which normally provides an essential barrier between your gut and the rest of your body to prevent harmful substances from entering your body.

The intestinal wall contains small gaps, called tight…

Kiran Nijjer, B.S. NBC-HWC, M.S.*

MD/PhD in prog, B.S Behavioural Neuroscience, M.S Medical Nutrition, National Board Certified Health+Wellness Coach in Functional Medicine.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store