Mental illness is not always in our heads. Sometimes it is caused by poor nutrition, lack of exercise, substance abuse, tobacco smoking, and other unhealthy habits.
The field of Psychiatry is now emphasizing the importance of good nutrition for mental health. As a result of the chemical nature of our bodies and how it affects our brains/emotions/moods, we must be very careful about what we eat, exercise regularly, take vitamin supplements, and avoid all manner of harmful habits.
Scientists say that many people with mental illness commonly maintain poor diets, eat junk food, drink caffeine beverages, abuse alcohol and drugs, and smoke tobacco. This creates the biochemical perfect storm for mental illness. It creates a propensity for anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and many other forms of mental problems.
Good nutrition requires discipline.
Like anything else, if you want to get better you’ve got to work at bettering your eating habits. Start a new daily regimen being mindful of what you eat. Avoid foods that are high in sugar and fat, starchy carbohydrates, or processed with chemicals and preservatives.
Instead, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, natural juices, and limit your meat intake to only once a day. Eventually, your goal should be to transition to a complete vegetarian diet if possible. Not only will you lose weight naturally, but you will feel better.
There are those in the psychiatric field are reporting that some mentally ill patients have been cured by simply changing their diet. A healthy brain depends on the steady creation of neurotransmitters which rely on the chemical makeup of our diets.
Avoid stress as much as possible
Elevated cortisol levels (the fight-or-flight hormone), released into your bloodstream in response to fear or stress, creates all kinds of health problems in your body and brain. A steady stream of cortisol and other stress hormones can also deplete vitamins in our bodies and weaken the number of neurotransmitters in the brain. Protect these important neurotransmitters. Keep calm and be happy.
Humans need a connection with other humans and with nature to flourish. So many people with mental illness tend to live in isolation, and that’s not good. Force yourself to go out more and participate in normal human interactions with others.
Take vitamin supplements for mental health
After running a routine lab test, one doctor discovered that a patient suffering from panic attacks had a vitamin B-12 deficiency. So he began a series of B12 injections. Within days, the panic attacks were over.
Vitamin B-12 supplements should be consumed daily (1000 mcg). A deficiency in vitamin B12 can result in a host of illnesses like anemia, fatigue, weakness, constipation, poor appetite, weight loss, depression, bad memory and more. This important vitamin helps to regulate the nervous system, reducing depression, stress, and anxiety. Make sure that your body is getting enough vitamin B12 by eating eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, soy, and some varieties of nutritional yeast.
Folic acid is necessary for the synthesis of our neurotransmitters, which help to regulate things like mood and sleep. A significant number of depressed patients have folate deficiencies.
Vitamin D is a key nutrient for the nervous and immune systems and low levels have been linked to depression. For some people, simply getting a bit more vitamin D from the sun and absorbed through the skin can make a difference. Others who with real deficiencies need to take vitamin D supplements.
Omega 3 Fish Oil
Omega-3, in the form of fish oil or krill oil is also important. Our bodies cannot make these essential fatty acids, and they must be acquired from either diet or supplementation. They play a key role in brain health.
Take magnesium at night to help with sleep problems and muscle relaxation. Even if sleep is not an issue for you, chances are you’re still magnesium deficient (80 percent of us are). And that’s alarming because magnesium helps control hundreds of chemical reactions in the body.
Gut health affects everything – including our brains. Studies have found that by correcting imbalances in the relative levels of certain microorganisms in our intestinal tract, patients were able to reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. In addition, probiotics in yogurt are great for people who are under a lot of stress or eat processed food.
Holistic Therapy is better than just drugs.
Many times, psychiatric drugs only treat the symptoms of mental illness, and not the underlying problem. However, modern psychiatry is recognizing, more and more, that mental health problems need to be addressed with whole body therapy – body, soul, and spirit. And good nutrition – the body’s chemical makeup – is a vital aspect of complete and effective therapy.
– Dr. L. Joseph, CPC
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