We are living in challenging time. Despite our technological advancement, more people are suffering ill health both physically and psychologically. Hypertension, heart disease, cancers, type 2 diabetes mellitus and cerebrovascular diseases are on the increase. Many more people are struggling with stress, depression, anxiety, sleep related problems, fatigue, suicide and other psychological problems. Sad to say, many of the health problems stated are related to nutrition. We are a people who are well fed but undernourished.
To combat health problems, many people turn to drugs, including the illicit types such as marijuana, amphetamines and cocaine, the socially sanctioned type such as alcohol, and prescribed medications such as antidepressants, anxiolytic agents and pain killers. We have every medication imaginable for every condition including pill to lose weight and suppress appetite. Whilst medications can really help us with many different conditions, we have become over reliant on them. We have abdicated our control over health to the drug companies.
Contrary to popular misconception, it is not difficult to ensure a good mental health. It begins with good and optimum nutrition. Sine the brain is intimately related to the mind. What we feed our bodies affects our brains which in turn affect our minds. Many mental or psychological conditions can be partially alleviated and sometimes fully resolved by following an optimum nutrition with the right supplements.
The followings provide a quick guide to some common psychological conditions:
To enhance your memory:
- Avoid foods containing chemical additives.
- Do not smoke and stay away from smoky places.
- Eat mineral rich foods such as seeds and nuts.
- Supplement with vitamin C daily which protects your brain from toxic minerals.
- Supplement with phospholipids such as phosphatidyl serine and phosphatidyl choline.
- Eat a diet rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids. Both help neutralize the damaging effects of free-radicals. Vegetables and fruits are the best sources of antioxidants, although tea and dark chocolate contribute as well. Cold water fish, freshly ground flaxseed and walnuts provide omega-3 fats.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol’s damaging effects on the central nervous system is well established.
- Take a multivitamin that contains B vitamins. The B vitamins folic acid, B6 and B12 are related to healthy cognitive function.
- Take daily Gingko Biloba supplement.
To reduce anxiety:
- Keep the blood sugar even by eating slow release complex carbohydrates
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine and sugar.
- Avoid foods with chemical additives.
- Take a daily supplement of magnesium.
- Consider herbal remedies such as St John’s Wort, Cortitrol and valerian.
- Drink herbal tea that is relaxing.
To combat insomnia:
- Avoid sugar and stimulants especially after 4pm.
- Eat calcium and magnesium rich foods such as seeds and dark green vegetables.
- Avoid protein rich or fatty snacks after dinner.
- Avoid large evening meals.
- Take a daily supplement of 400mg calcium and 300mg magnesium before bedtime.
- Take a complete multivitamin supplement that includes 100mg vitamin B6 and 10mg of zinc.
- Consider taking 5-HTP or L-Tryptophan before bedtime. Both of these substances are precursors of serotonin which is important in the maintenance of an even mood.
- Consider valerian, St John’s Wort and Cortitrol.
To beat the blues and prevent mood swings:
- Eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats help build receptor sites and improve the reception of serotonin which is the neurotransmitter responsible for maintaining an even mood. A deficiency of serotonin will result in depression.
- Eat slow release complex carbohydrates combined with protein.
- Take omega-3 fish oils supplement.
- Take a complete multivitamin supplement which includes 500mg of vitamin C, 100mg of vitamin B6, 20mg of zinc and 300mg of magnesium.
- Eat foods rich in tryptophan. These include oat porridge, eggs, cottage cheese, tuna, green beans, tofu, salmon, lentil and yogurts.
- Consider taking L-Tryptophan and 5-HTP supplements.
- Consider herbal remedies such as Cortitrol and St John’s Wort.
- Avoid sugar, stimulants and nicotine.
- Consider taking DHEA if the level is low.
To aid the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD or ADHD) and learning disorders:
- Eat a diet rich in essential fatty acids such as omega-3. Numerous studies show that children with the symptoms of ADD or ADHD have lower levels of essential fatty acids. Studies also show that lower levels of essential fatty acids can result in problems with learning, behavior, temper, sleep, and immune function.
- Eat foods rich in amino acids. Amino acids, the building blocks of protein in the body, literally feed the brain. Amino acids promote the production of various neurotransmitters and enzymes critically needed in the brain for communication between brain cells, smooth and balanced cognition and fluid transition from thought to disciplined action. Foods high in complete protein are excellent sources of amino acids. Good sources of complete proteins include meat, fish, eggs, dairy products and soy. Yogurt is the only animal-derived complete protein that dieticians recommend for frequent use in the diet. For vegetarians, brown rice served with beans, seeds, nuts or wheat make a complete protein. All soy products also make a complete protein.
- Take a complete multivitamin B supplement daily. B vitamins help form neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers of the nervous system. Pyridoxal phosphate, a B-6 member, is pivotal in the synthesis of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA).
- A Saint Joseph Hospital (Pennsylvania) study found low serotonin levels as possible causes of ADD or ADHD in hyperactive children. The researchers observed a significant increase in serotonin when introducing a B-6 supplement.
- Take zinc supplement daily. A number of studies point to an association between zinc deficiency and the symptoms of ADD or ADHD.
- A 1996 study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, revealed a significant correlation between zinc and fatty acids, in that both were decreased in children displaying the symptoms of ADD or ADHD.
- In looking for dietary causes of ADD or ADHD, an Ohio State University found a relationship between zinc deficiency and response to stimulant medicine (such as Ritalin) among people with the symptoms of ADD or ADHD.
- Take phosphatidyl serine supplement. Phosphatidyl serine, a neural-membrane supportive, is a natural extract of lecithin and often used as a supplement for the symptoms of ADD or ADHD. Many clinical trials of memory loss, mood, cognitive performance and learning ability show that phosphatidyl serine can optimize cognition.
- In a study of twenty-seven children with the symptoms of ADD or ADHD all but two children showed improvement in learning capacity and behavior when given 200-300 mg of phosphatidyl serine daily for four months.
- To get a healthy sampling of nutrition to fuel the body and brain, you should eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables, fish at least twice a week, nuts and fresh fruits.
- Limit or avoid foods that can produce allergies or sensitivity. The top food culprits producing causes of ADD or ADHD symptoms are: sugar, chocolate, eggs, milk, wheat, colors/additives/flavors, and corn.
- Take Gingko Biloba to improve memory and concentration.
To aid the treatment of autistic spectrum disorder:
- Follow the optimum nutrition plan for ADD or ADHD above.
- In addition, eliminate wheat and dairy from the diet.
- Supplement with cod liver oil, vitamin B6, magnesium, zinc and vitamin C.
- Take molybdenum, L-glutamate and high strength probiotics supplement to ensure good gastrointestinal health.
- Check for allergies to artificial food colorings, salicylates and chocolates and eliminate such foods from the diets.
To aid in the treatment of addictive disorders:
- Eat an extremely healthy diet with the full complement of antioxidants, vitamins, phytonutrients, minerals and the major food groups.
- Take L-glutamine power 5g twice daily.
- Take essential free fatty acids supplement including GLA, EPA and DHA which are present in Omega-3 fish oil and evening primrose oil.
- Take a complete antioxidant, multivitamin and mineral supplement which includes high strength B complex such as niacin 500mg, pantothenic acid (B5) 500mg, vitamin B6 100mg, folic acid 1mg, vitamin C 3 to 10g a day spread through the day.
- Take mineral supplement including 300mg calcium, 300mg magnesium and 20mg zinc daily.
- Take natural relaxant such as valerian, St John’s Wort and Cortitrol.
- Drink herbal tea daily.
Good mental health is the basic right of every individual. Do not rely on the pharmaceutical companies to come out with the wonder drugs for your psychological well-being. Begin on the journey of optimum nutrition today.