Nutrition and Mental Health

Nutrition and mental health are inextricably linked. Did you know that an allergy to wheat gluten can have symptoms that mimic schizophrenia?

Did you know that low blood sugar aka known as hypoglycemia is a big factor in violent behavior?

Food allergies and heavy metal poisoning can cause extreme behaviors, behaviors that might be diagnosed as examples of poor mental health.

So for peak mental health, just like peak physical health and peak brain fitness, nutrition is a key factor.

Dr. Hans Diehl of the CHIP programs says it well, "eat foods as they are grown," and I would add make sure they are locally grown and ripened on the vine.

Nutrition and Brain Health

Has anyone called you fathead recently? It might not always be an insult, as neurons are basically fat, and they need to have a regular uptake of fat, otherwise they get rigid and do not process signals from other neurons effectively, which means I can make some mistakes in interpretations of the intentions and behaviors of others.

The best kind of fat for your brain?

Omega 3 fatty acid from ocean going fish, which presents a rub, as too much of those fish can mean mercury poisoning.

So essentially, I need to supplement, and make sure the supplement is processed appropriately.

Recently, Omega 3 fatty acid has been linked to improvements in ADD (I can testify to that) and depression.

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Nutrients Important to Mental Health

From Dr. Vijaya Sathe.
"Deficiency of certain essential foods and nutrients is the root cause of all mental illnesses. Vital foods and nutrients are especially important for the functioning of the brain. It is essential for psychiatrists to acknowledge that nutritional changes along with drugs will provide a holistic treatment for the patient, resulting in positive results.

The following is a list of nutrients relevant to the field of mental health:

Vitamin B1 - This is called morale vitamin. Brutality, lack of concentration, and sleeplessness is the main symptoms caused by its deficiency

Vitamin B3 - Its deficiency causes hallucinations. The patient may perceive that one's mirror image is changing, may feel that people are talking or whispering around him/her, or that the ground is slipping under one's feet while walking / descending stairs.

Vitamin B5 - This is an anti-stress vitamin. Deficiency of this vitamin can cause irritability, panic responses, and a quarrelsome nature.

Vitamin C - This improves IQ, alertness, immunological or hormonal functions, and overall sense of health of a person.

Vitamin E - This vitamin helps in ensuring a sufficient supply of oxygen to the brain, without which the brain might suffer serious damage.

Minerals, even though found in traces in the human body, is vital to good brain health.

Mg.- This is nature's tranquilliser. Deficiency of Mg can lead to mental ill health. Noise pollution reduces Mg in the body. Insomnia, tremors, nightmares, suicides, irregular heartbeats are some symptoms of Mg deficiency. This mineral is found in nuts and in green leafy vegetables.

Calcium - This relieves stress. It is said to be as soothing as a mother. Deficiency of Calcium may cause irritability, and a high-strung feeling. Calcium is also called the lullaby pill. It is found in sprouts, cow's milk, yogurt, paneer, soybeans, and freshs vegetable juices.

Sulphur - Cauliflower, radish, onion, garlic are high in sulphur content, which is very good for the liver.

We must regularly have seasonal vegetables fruits to provide the necessary enzymes, and vitamins to our body.

Nature, nurture and nutrition are the three pillars of good mental health. Nature is the genetic constitution of an individual. Nutrition is the means of looking after one's health. This depends on the environment, the physical work done by the person, and the financial status of a person. Nutrition is the beans i.e. the proteins and the various essential foods that are required by our body. Nutrition can alter the genetic pattern of the body.

'A gene, mean and bean' life style approach to diet and mental health must be appreciated. We are what we eat. Although all mental health problems cannot be due to nutritional deficiencies alone, giving supplements in the diet form, along with medication will certainly bring about a holistic approach in dealing with the problem.

Mind over matter is an important factor in most of the alternative therapies. Meditation, auto-suggestion, mental imagery, all help in the creation of pro-healing hormones to get well."

Food and Behavior by Barbara Reed Stitt

A book that I have used in my Anger Management classes which speaks very clearly to the issue of mental health and nutrition is Barbara Reed Stitt's book called Food And Behavior, in which she writes about her personal journey with hypoglycemia and how, as a probation officer, she reduced the recidivism of her case load by writing into the probation order that probationers be tested for food allergies and heavy metal poisoning.

If probationers were found to have a food allergy (corn, peanuts, wheat, and milk are the four major allergies), they were forbidden to eat those foods, and that was a very important part in how she achieved such an incredible drop in recidivism.

Behavior improves with the elimination of problem foods.

Now to get Americans to eliminate high fructose corn syrup and msg from our vitamins and ketchup.

One of the interesting revelations in an interview with Paul Stitt, husband to Barbara Reed Stitt, and a former biochemist with one of the corporate behemoths involved in manufacturing processed foods was that one brand of cookie had no less than 23 appetite stimulants in its recipe. Those stimulants are designed to work in the reward center of the brain, making it fire over and over so we eat more and more, and without the requisite food, my neurons cannot communicate effectively and in 1/18th second, I change my mood to rage, pick up a knife, and perhaps hurt someone. Life changes fast.

So for the sake of your mental health, do not eat processed foods. I know it is a lifestyle change, but you can do it.

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