- Kellie Blake RDN, LD
Nutrition for Mental Health
October 7-13, 2018 is National Mental Illness Awareness Week. Hippocrates said, “it is more important to know what sort of person has a disease than to know what sort of disease a person has.” In other words, we have to look at everyone as a unique individual and provide care that is specific to that person. It is not enough to just know that someone has symptoms of depression, schizophrenia, adhd, anxiety, or bipolar disorder, we must find the root cause of those symptoms and adjust our treatment based on what will help that specific individual manage symptoms and have an awesome quality of life! There is no one size fits all model when it comes to managing mental health disorders.
The main dysfunction in psychiatric disorders is miscommunication at some level. For example, there may be a nutrient deficiency, food intolerance or allergy, dysbiosis, a gene variant, or a hormone imbalance involved in the root cause of a mental illness. Working with a practitioner who can find your root cause will lead you to the path of ultimate wellness and recovery. Targeted, personalized nutrition recommendations are a powerful tool in creating a comprehensive lifestyle plan to correct imbalances in your body. When imbalances are corrected, quality of life is greatly improved, symptoms are reduced, and the body can heal.
There is no one eating style that will be appropriate for every person. But, there are some general nutrition guidelines that are appropriate for most people, especially those with symptoms of mental health disorders:
Avoid sugar and sugar substitutes. Sugar damages the gut microbiome and mental health is closely related to the health of the gut. Sugar is also damaging to the brain and leads to inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation is the root of all chronic disease. Likewise, sugar substitutes have been found to negatively affect the gut microbiome.
Eat lots of plants. Vegetables are the foundation for creating a healthy gut microbiome. In addition, they provide numerous vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients, which improve brain function. Choose organic produce; research is clear that organic foods contain more nutrients and do not contain toxic chemicals, such as those found in conventionally farmed produce. Check out the dirty dozen on www.ewg.org for the latest information on which types of produce contain the most toxins.
Add in healthy fats. Not all types of fat are bad. In fact, our brains are 60-70% fat and need fat to function properly. However, the wrong types of fats can increase inflammation. Choose good quality olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, grass-fed butter and ghee. Avoid processed oils like canola, grapeseed, and other highly processed vegetable oils.
Avoid processed foods and fast food. Processed and fast foods have little to no nutritional value and they provide us with empty calories. In addition, many processed foods contain toxins that affect the gut microbiome and the brain. The more processed a food is, the less nutrition it contains.
Choose healthy proteins. Avoid highly processed meats like bacon, sausage, and lunchmeat. Choose healthier cuts of meat, fish, and poultry. Try meat-free sources of protein as well like beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Personalized, healthy nutrition can be the foundation for healing your entire body, including your brain! If you are interested in partnering with an expert to address your specific symptoms, contact us for a free 15 minute phone consultation. We can help guide you in developing a plan that will dramatically improve your quality of life!