The Powerful Effects of Nutrition on Mental Health

The foods one eats can have a profound influence on one’s body systems. Its precisely the of nutrients found in food or a lack of them that determines how well our mind and body cooperate with each other. Anyone coping with stress, depression, anxiety and other mental problems is in dire need of essential nutrients and a well-balanced diet, which in many cases may cause a complete remission of symptoms.

Diet and exercise are typically offered up as important elements in the battle against fighting mental health disorders, but the advice given by many healthcare professionals is often not very specific. Physicians sometimes tend to opt for treatment using drugs, when patients come in for stress and depression-related disorders. After all, the pharmaceutical industry is a major business and minerals together with vitamins cannot be patented! Furthermore, the field of nutrition is not high on the list of issues in medical schools. In extreme cases, drugs may be the only option, but once again they usually work on alleviating symptoms and don’t cure the root of the problem.

Plant Based Nutrition in the Treatment of Mental Health Disorders
One of the best ways to get nutrients from our diet is to switch to a more plant-based diet, rich in fruits and vegetables. Vegetarians seem to have a lower incidence rate of mental health problems as result of this. Fruits and vegetables contain a wealth of omega 3 alpha-linolenic acids (ALA), a type of Omega-3 fatty acid, and are low in the arachidonic acid found in mass produced meat. This may have a positive impact on mental health.

The one challenge to this kind of diet, however, is that plants are unable to supply the body with B-12 vitamins. Hence, anyone considering this diet should take B-12 supplements as B-12 deficiency has been directly linked to many mental health problems such as depression and even psychosis.

Common Supplements Used in the Treatment of Mental Disorders

Sadly, most of us do not get enough key nutrients from most of our food alone, because it has been over-processed and devoid of many essential nutrients. Oftentimes, people will have to use nutritional supplements to get the entire sum of needed nutrients that can make an impact on our mental health.

B-Complex Vitamins
Mental health specialists have found that B complex vitamins play a major role in improving one’s mood and mental functions. B complex vitamins help supply the body with energy used in the breaking down of food, while protecting brain functions and nerve cells. Abram Hoffer, MD, once did a major double-blind study using B3 (aka niacin) to treat schizophrenia patients, and discovered that 80% of the cases were reversed within two years of treatment.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Since our brains are 60% fat, it requires the intake of quality fats in order to survive. Among the best of them are the Omega 3 fatty acids common in fish. There are two fatty acids known as EPA as well as DHA, which are responsible for promoting healthy nerve cells and improve the overall functioning of our brains. Many studies have shown the efficacy of using Omega 3 fatty acids to improve mental health.

 Other useful supplements work directly on stimulating the appropriate neurotransmitter connections in the brain. These include serotonin, 5 HTP – which naturally raises the amount of serotonin in the body and SAMe – which is an excellent alternative to Prozac.

Posted by: MJC

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