9 Foods that Affect Your Mental Health

The brain works 24/7 to control thoughts, movements, breathing, heartbeat and senses; as a result, it requires constant supply of fuel, which come from the food you eat on a daily basis. However, your brain can only function well if you eat the right kind of food. This post will explore the foods that are likely to affect your brain negatively and positively.

Foods Likely to Affect Your Brain Positively

1. Blueberries

Blueberries contain compounds that protect the brain against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. These compounds also improve the function of the part of the brain that controls learning and motor skills.

2. Nuts

Nuts contain vitamin E. High levels of vitamin E reduce the rate of cognitive decline in adults. Suitable nuts include cashews, almonds, filberts, flax seeds, sesame, sunflower seeds, and walnuts.

3. Salmon

Salmon fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce the symptoms of depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, and other mental disorders. This is possible because omega-3s stimulate the production of brain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin.

4. Whole Grains

Whole grains are the prime source of energy. They provide a steady source of fuel to the brain, enabling it to perform its functions effectively. Healthy whole grains include oats, barley, beans, soy, wheat and bulgur.

5. Leafy Vegetables

Leafy vegetables contain high amounts of folic acid and vitamin B. A deficiency in these nutrients can lead to depression, fatigue and insomnia. Best examples of leafy vegetables include romaine, turnip, broccoli, mustard greens and spinach.

Foods Likely to Affect Your Brain Negatively

6. Tuna

Many people love tuna because of its taste. However, tuna contains high amounts of mercury, which can take a toll on the brain function. A research conducted by the University of South Florida found that high levels of mercury in the blood contribute to a five percent cognitive decline.

7. White Rice

White rice has a high glycemic index that increases the risk of depression. A study conducted in 2015 found out that women who have eaten food high glycemic-index foods were more likely to report new-onset depression than those who ate foods rich in lactose and fiber.

8. Fruit Juice/Sugary Drinks

Fruit juice contains a lot of sugar. Consistent intake of sugar can reduce cognitive flexibility and memory. This is possible because sugar promotes the growth of clostridiales, a gut bacteria that increases gut inflammation and downstream the brain is affected.

9. Cheese

Cheese contains a lot of saturated fats that contribute to memory decline and inflammation in the brain. The saturated fats also damage the hypothalamus, the part of the brain which has many important functions including directing the release of hormones from the pituitary gland vital for regulating weight and metabolism.

8 Adaptogens That Can Help With Managing Stress

Stress is a common and often chronic condition many people are facing these days. If you or someone you know is likely to experience stress on a regular basis- you may want to consider the use of adaptogenic herbs to help treat it. The use of adaptogenic herbs in the natural health world is booming right now though it is important to note that the bulk of evidence you will find on its effectiveness is by word of mouth as opposed to scientific fact. However, more research is being done and there are many healthcare practitioners backing the benefits of their use. If you are interested in giving them a try, here is a list of adaptogenic herbs that could potentially help you with managing stress.

1. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is also known as “Indian ginseng”. It is known for helping with a variety of issues from sleep disorders to anxiety, to backaches.

2. Holy Basil

Holy Basil is also used to treat a variety of discomforts. Such discomforts include the common cold, headaches, and migraines. It is also used to treat malaria and even heart disease.

3. Asian Ginseng

This herb improves memory, concentration, and depression. There are many types of ginseng- most of which are touted as natural energy boosters.

4. Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea is known for treating depression and contribute to more mental clarity. It is a root, known also as the “golden root”, and is said to help improve concentration and ease stress.

5. Licorice Root

Licorice Root can help with all sorts of digestive issues such as ulcers, heartburn, and inflammation. It is also used to treat bodily infections and regulate hormone levels.

6. Siberian Ginseng

Some people use Siberian ginseng to improve athletic performance. It provides a boost to the immune system and combats flu symptoms.

7. Astragalus

This herb is often used in combination with other herbs such as ginseng and licorice to increase its effectiveness. It’s good for strengthening the immune system, easing the symptoms of allergies, and managing diabetes.

8. Schisandra

Schisandra is said to protect against disease, stress, strengthens the immune system and provides one with more energy.

If you are considering the use of adaptogenic herbs to help reduce stress and improve your health, consult your healthcare provider first.

Nutritional Psychiatry Is the Future of Mental Health Care

It’s common knowledge that a diet of nutrient-rich food is essential for keeping one’s body healthy. Perhaps it’s not much of a surprise, then, that research also suggests a strong link between nutrition and mental health as well. But these findings offer more than just another reason to pass up that extra bag of chips. A robust collection of emerging evidence is driving the growth of nutritional psychiatry, i.e. using food and supplements as part of an integrated approach to remedying depression and other forms of mental illness.

Conventional treatment for depression often involves the use of antidepressants, the effects of which are varied and somewhat unpredictable. It’s true that antidepressants have been found more effective at improving mental states than a placebo in adults, but the improvement often comes at the cost of unpleasant side effects and chemical dependency. In addition, a review of 29 clinical pediatric trials by Dr. David Healy, professor of psychiatry at Bangor University, UK, found that antidepressant use in children under 18 produced more harm than benefits.

In contrast, the connection between mental illness and nutritional deficiency has been firmly acknowledged for ages by health experts, and more recently by psychiatrists looking to augment their approach to treatment. Recent data has linked a variety of mental health problems to an inflammatory response that spreads from the gut to the brain, and begins when the body is deprived of essential nutrients.

Multiple studies have associated a diet supplemented with zinc, magnesium, vitamins B and D3, and probiotics with significant mood improvements, as well as decreases in depression and anxiety symptoms. Alzheimer’s patients have also been shown to benefit from increased nutrient consumption. In addition, symptoms such as low mood, cognitive decline and poor comprehension are observable in individuals lacking Omega-3 fatty acids.

No longer can doctors–or patients–afford to brush aside the mounting evidence that supports nutritional intervention as a valid alternative to conventional treatment. Supplements are generally cheap, and available over the counter almost anywhere (though not all brands are equal). Antidepressants are arguably over-prescribed and under-evidenced, not to mention expensive in ways far more insidious than monetary cost. Nutritional psychiatry, on the other hand, boasts a body of research that should afford it a greater role in conventional mental health treatment.

Why Everyone is Talking about EFT aka “Tapping”

Too often, people find themselves caught in a cyclone of negative thinking. When left untreated, mental illness and associated physical conditions tend to rob life of its enjoyment. But treatment isn’t necessarily effective. It can involve a strict regimen of chemicals, each with a hefty price tag, not to mention a plethora of serious side effects–which then require treatment of their own. In this way, the cycle of negativity twists and constricts, threatening happiness and siphoning life’s potential.

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT Tapping), also known simply as “tapping,” presents a new method for freeing the body and mind from spiraling negativity. No one should be condemned to an endless loop of feeling discontented with treatment followed by treatment to remedy discontent. By dispensing cutting-edge psychiatry through the medium of 5,000 year old Chinese acupressure treatment, tapping aims to offer relief from life’s accumulated baggage. Chronic pain, depression, anxiety, addictions, phobias, post traumatic stress disorder and more: all of these may be relieved via tapping, a remedy that balances the mind, no pill required.

For how effective tapping can be, the technique behind it is remarkably simple. Over millennia, the Chinese have perfected acupuncture to relieve many forms of stress. Acupuncture involves targeting the body’s nearly 400 “meridian points” to promote healing. Tapping invokes a similar technique. Instead of needles, however, tapping requires only its namesake: a series of 5-7 “taps” along the body’s 12 major meridian points. This is done while a patient concentrates on a particular emotion, thought, or other form of distress, framing it within an ideal resolution. Unlike acupuncture, tapping is physically painless, and can be self-applied anywhere.

Traditional doctors and psychologists are understandably skeptical when it comes to tapping. However, a growing body of evidence supports the fact that tapping actually does produce real, beneficial effects. For example, a double-blind study at Harvard Medical School found that stimulating meridian points through pressure–in other words, tapping–reduces the severity of stress and fear responses. Also, in a randomized controlled trial by researcher Dr. Dawson Church, PhD, it was shown that cortisol (stress hormone) levels decreased an average of 24% after an hour-long tapping session. Some of Dawson’s 83 subjects even exhibited reduction rates as significant as 50%. Among the strongest evidence in support of tapping is a 2016 meta-analysis of 14 studies published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, through which researchers were able to verify that EFT facilitated a substantial drop in anxiety scores among adults experiencing emotional distress.

Tapping has undoubtedly changed thousands of lives for the better, however researchers caution that it shouldn’t be taken as a miracle cure-all. The technique works best when combined with traditional cognitive therapy, as well as healthy eating, daily exercise, and other positive lifestyle changes.