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Recently, The World Health Organization stated that mental health issues "are quickly becoming the number-one health issue of the 21st century". Clinical depression is the biggest international health threat after heart disease. At the same time, there is growing dissatisfaction with the drug treatments available.
Today, more than ever before is the growing interest in a more natural, nutritional approach to mental health problems. Food as medicine is not a new proposition – it is as old as Hippocrates, the father of western medicine.
Today 40% of patients who walk into doctor’s offices are suffering from mental health issues, while an astonishing two-thirds of family practice physicians have had no mental health training. As a result, most physicians don’t consider the patients’ nutritional status, on that initial visit.
Dr. André Tylee, chairman of the National Institute for Mental Health is passionate about the benefits of nutritional therapy and said it is "the breakthrough we’ve been waiting for". He is helping to ensure that nutritional approaches will become the first step doctors use to diagnose and defeat mental illness.
According to Patrick Holford, nutritionist and founder of the Institute of Optimum Nutrition and author of the bestseller Optimum Nutrition for the Mind, believes that nine out of every 10 persons eat less than the recommended daily amounts of our 39 essential nutrients.
"They’re not called essential for nothing," he says. Poor nutrition combined with other factors such as high homocysteine levels, which leaves persons twice as likely to suffer from depression, high blood-sugar, heart disease, and neuro-transmitter imbalances, no wonder the rise in population of persons with brain chemistry that is off kilter!
The foods we eat affects our mood, behavior, and brain function. The hungry person may feel irritable and restless, whereas a person who has just eaten a meal may feel calm and satisfied. A sleepy person may feel more productive after a cup of coffee and a light snack, and the person who has consistently eaten less food than is needed over a long period of time may be moody.
Likewise, persons who smoke or drink alcohol realize a temporary mood change.
What we do not notice many times is the lasting influence certain foods have on our mood and mental well being, as they affect the structure and functioning of the brain. Feeding the body the essential nutrients for great physical health equals feeding the brain for enhanced cognitive, thinking skills, and improved autonomic performance(just little things like breathing).
So, how to feed the hungry brain? Fill up your kitchen with foods that will enhance your body with health. Whole grain and low glycemic index foods (slowly digested) are better for concentration.
Vitamin D3 from eggs, salmon and sardines can be used to lower the risk of age-related cataracts and macular degeneration as well as to ward off moodiness and anxiety. Nuts to clear up brain fog, and the anthocyanins in blackberries to reverse age-related brain deficits.
Broccoli to banish the blues, grapes for better memory, and drink tea for better mental performance. Enjoy your fresh fruits with there antioxidants, for long life, and add more red cabbage to your diet, for the antioxidants that fight Alzheimer’s disease.
An iron deficiency in your diet will alter brain development and function in adults and in children, so add egg yolks, dark, leafy greens, dried fruits, beans, chick peas, and artichokes to your diet.
In children and adults, insufficient levels of zinc have been associated with lowered learning ability, apathy, lethargy, and mental retardation, Just another reason to enjoy dark chocolate and peanuts, while you are working and studying, or doing homework with the kids. It will add to your concentration and focus.
After eating all the great foods for the brain and body, there will be no room left for junk foods and drive thru eating. Making better food choices can change the health of our country, one family at a time. Most of mental illness, depression and behavior problems stem from poor diet choices. Poor diet equals poor nutrition to nourish the hungry brain.
Remember, Health is a Choice!
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