It has been an enduring belief that nutrition plays a significant role in the state of mental health of an individual. But is this true or not?
Recent, as well as previous research has proven that nutrition (or the lack of it) does have effects on how a person’s brain functions, their moods and their behaviours.
Say, for example, a person who has skipped a meal is observably weak, out of focus and irritable. This case worsens when extended to a certain period of time when the person becomes severely moody and indifferent to the demands of his environment thus showing decreased speed in reaction time.
These behaviours occur due to the lack of nutrition supply to the brain. The brain requires high energy and nutrient supply. It comprises 20% to 30% of all the energy consumption of the body during rest periods. Thus, any change in diet or nutrition level of the body directly reflects in the mental functioning.
Chronic energy deprivation, such as the case of malnourished people, results to the eventual shutting down of the body by decreasing its activities and redirecting all its energy sources towards the systems that require higher energy supply. This results in altered levels of activities, changes in hormonal levels, lessened immune system efficiency and transport of nutrients and oxygen to certain body parts, all of which could directly or indirectly influence mental health. People with extremely low nutrition are more likely to become sad, depressed and emotional as compared with those who have adequate nutrition.
Newborn babies and fetuses are also susceptible to brain damage if they are subjected to a lack of necessary nutrition. The type and degree of damage are dependent on the severity of malnutrition. Also, malnutrition among babies has proven to produce a low level of intelligence, cognitive defects as well as functional abnormalities.
Protein, carbohydrates, lipids and vitamins all have individual effects on the brain. Lack of supply of these necessary nutrients results to alterations in the activities of the neurotransmitters, a chemical component in the brain that transmits one nerve impulse from one nerve cell to another. Malfunctioning of the transmitters could influence a person’s mood, thinking and even sleep patterns. Additionally, deficient levels of nutrition may result to nerve cell damage that could disrupt cognitive and mental functions.
Neurotransmitters are partly made of amino acids, the building block of protein. Tryptophan, for example, makes up the neurotransmitter serotonin. If the required amino acid is lacking, the functions of the neurotransmitter could not be executed, which affects the normal functioning of the brain. In case of deficient protein consumption and failure to supply the necessary amino acid to make serotonin, the body would experience low mood and perhaps, aggression. Additionally, diseases that could cause the build up of certain amino acids could lead to brain damage thus affecting the mental health of an individual.
Mood regulation could also be associated with the sufficient intake of dietary fats. Some studies have yielded inconclusive results on the correlation between serotonin level and intake of omega-3 fatty acids, a certain type of fat found only in white fish to stress and symptoms of bipolar disorder (a mood disorder having the representations of both mania and depression).
Directly or indirectly, nutrition has an effect on mental health. Changes in the nutritional intake of a person could lead to alterations in mental health and vice versa.
Back pain can be avoided and the damage repaired with one easy exercise, which is lie down on the floor with your knees bent, hip-width apart, feet on the floor. Do this daily for about five to fifteen minutes to release and lengthen your spine.
Crash diets don’t work for long enough; instead, maintain a food diary to note your daily eating habits. With this, you’ll be conscious of what you eat and make healthier choices.
Our breath power our lymphatic system, which removes waste from cells. By taking 10 deep breaths, three times a day, you’ll clear more toxins and boost your thinking power by getting 20% more oxygen to your brain.
Put your fork down between every mouthful of food, it makes you chew your food properly, preventing digestive problems, and also prevents you from overeating.
The most effective stress buster is to make a list. Your short-term memory can only remember, on an average, seven things. So when you overload it, your stress level escalates. Making a list clears out all the stress from your brain you feel tension free. This saves you from headaches, depression and high blood pressure.
Poor circulation could be robbing you of much-needed sleep. Your temperature needs to drop slightly before you fall asleep, so your body dispels heat via your face, hands and feet. But many women have poor circulation, which constricts the blood vessels in their hands and feet and prevents them from dispelling heat. A hot bath before sleeping or a hand and foot massage will increase your circulation.
If you buy one organic item a day, make it an apple. The research found that pesticide residues in 71% of apples- the highest in fruits and vegetables.
When it comes to tea white is the new green. White tea comes from the same plant as green and black but is harvested earlier and undergoes less processing, which means it contains more cancer-fighting antioxidants.
The most common nutritional deficiency is iron. Tiredness, irritability and lack of concentration. Prevent it by having two helpings of lean red meat a week, or three dried apricots a day.
Eating three meals a day is very important for a healthy body. It’s the simplest way to balance blood sugar levels, which will keep your mood, energy and concentration balanced and strengthen your stress tolerance.
Include some raw vegetables in every meal. Many of the vitamins and minerals are in vegetables are lost through cooking, so raw food is as good as it gets.
Take two minutes to boost your resolve to do walk, jog or aerobics class. The instant gratification of that exercise high is far more motivating than the promise of thinner thighs two months down the line.
1. Physical exercise. Physical exercise strengthens your brain. Exercise benefits your brain cells. The blood vessels inside your brain dilate and increase blood flow when you engage in regular exercise. Exercise helps to eliminate toxins and allows oxygen and other nutrients to flow into your brain strengthening your brain cells.
2. Mind exercises. Concentration and clear thinking are more or less automatic once you remove distractions. Learn to stop and watch your busy mind. As you notice things that are subtly bothering you, deal with them. This might mean making a phone call you need to make, or putting things on a list so you can forget them for now. With practice, this becomes easier, and your thinking becomes more powerful.
3. Healthy breakfast. Start your day with a healthy breakfast. Skipping breakfast affects your brainpower and performance at home, school or work. Minimize your eating during the day to mostly live raw fruits and veggies and their juices. This will help you detoxify and nourish your brain with essential nutrients and antioxidants to protect your brain from daily free radicals assaults.
4. Increase Water Intake. Given that your brain is about 80 per cent water, the first rule of brain nutrition is adequate water to hydrate your brain. Even slight dehydration can raise stress hormones, which can damage your brain over time. Drink at least 84 ounces of water a day. It is best to have your liquids unpolluted with artificial sweeteners, sugar, caffeine, or alcohol. You can use herbal, non-caffeinated tea bags, such as raspberry or strawberry flavoured, and make unsweetened iced tea. Green tea is also good for brain function as it contains chemicals that enhance mental relaxation and alertness.
5. Keep journals and notebooks. All the smart people write down their ideas, thoughts and observations. Writing things down lets, your brain knows that you value ideas. How does it reward you? By providing more ideas and better ideas. Writing things down creates a feedback loop that makes you smarter. You objectify your thoughts onto paper and that helps you think about them in a more powerful way. This is a great way to improve your brainpower.
6. Think positively. Thinking positively enables you to access your higher thinking abilities. When you are positive and feeling good, your mind functions smoothly. Ask yourself emotion-leading questions like, ìWhat am I grateful for right now? and Who do I love and who loves me?
7. Make sure you sleep enough. Your brain is rejuvenated during those sleeping hours. Research from the University of California suggests that if you have been awake for 21 hours straight, your abilities are equivalent to someone who is legally drunk. Sleep allows your brain to process new memories, practice new skills and solve problems. Therefore, a good night sleep is essential to boost your brainpower. How many hours sleep constitutes a good nightís sleep will vary between individuals, but between 6 ñ 8 hours, sleep is normally considered sufficient.
8. Creative Visualisation. Use the power of Creative Visualisation. Creative Visualisation is a technique that involves the use of mental energy to transform and improve the life of the individual who uses the technique. You can use your brainís mental energy to improve your life because your imagination is incredibly powerful and, when used correctly, can enhance your life by creating what you really want. Creative visualisation can be used to accelerate learning, improve memory and motivation, and of course, improve brainpower!
9. Develop your creativity and your intuition. Creativity gives power to your thinking. Raw computation can be done by computers now, but humans provide the creative thought that shapes our world. Intuition can be an important part of brainpower. Einstein and others have relied heavily on their intuitive hunches.
10. Make a brainpower plan. It takes about twenty to thirty days of repetition to establish new habits, many psychologists will tell you. This means that when you create your plan for improved brainpower, be sure you plan to use that new problem-solving technique or eat those new brain foods for at least three weeks. You can use many of the brain boosters here and get immediate results, but it is creating new habits that will give you the most brainpower.
Healthy eating and physical fitness go together, but there are no magic foods that cause you to be one hundred per cent healthy by just eating the one food. No, you need a variety of foods from each of these food groups each day. It’s also important to watch the portion size so as not to overeat. Make your mealtimes pleasant and relaxed occasions and your healthy foods will work effectively with your healthy emotions to give you a healthy body.
You may like all types of berries or just one or two favourites, but you can never go wrong by adding a few fresh berries as a quick energy snack or frozen berries made into a luscious smoothie in place of calorie-laden desserts. Berries are high in vitamin C across the board, but some are high in other nutrients as well. Choose ripe blueberries for vitamin C and heaps of anti-oxidants for the health of your circulatory system. Gogi berries are less well-known but are wonderfully rich in many of the nutrients your body needs to be nutritionally and physically fit.
The foods of the citrus family are widely recognized as a valuable source of vitamin C. Choose fully ripe citrus fruits for the best nutritional value and choose citrus as near to the tree as possible. Tree-ripened fruits picked at the peak of perfection and consumed with hours of picking give you the top nutritional rating. Try grapefruit for breakfast. Add a dash of freshly squeezed lime to your salad as a dressing and enjoy slices of orange with coconut in a light honey dressing for dessert.
The variety of vegetables is amazing. For people who are vegetarian or vegan, choosing vegetables to be part of a nutritionally sound diet is a way of life. Your vegetable group provides many of the minerals required for a good diet. For example, you may realize that potassium is necessary for healthy nutrition. Many people claim the benefits of potassium found in a single banana. But did you know, you can also get adequate potassium in your diet by eating a stalk of broccoli? Try a salad of fresh young spinach topped with pine nuts and stirred with lightly cooked penne’. Feta cheese and a light vinaigrette dressing to create the perfect light luncheon meal.
Like many other of the best foods, choosing only one type of whole grain for your meals doesn’t provide all the variety you need to be nutritionally sound. Often, mixing two or more whole grains together will give you complete proteins. For example, brown rice and wheat kernels with a spicy seasoning are a popular dish in many countries.
Salmon is lean fish and nutritionally one of the best fish choices. It is rich in Omega-3 oils that are noted as helping improve the functioning of the brain. Salmon baked whole with just lemon or lime as a seasoning makes a fantastic main dish or a hearty luncheon featured menu item. Salmon is also commonly found in chilled seafood dishes.
A legume is a name for a variety of fruits with a single dry seed. Legumes are sometimes called pods. Examples of edible legumes are soybeans, peas, dried beans and peanuts, among others. Legumes are rich in iron and high in fibre, making them excellent nutritional choices. Peanuts are a type of legume that has been used to make hundreds of different products some edible and others with various types of helpful uses.
Nature has packed a lot of goodness into small packages. Most everyone has heard of walnuts and pecans which are very good nutritional products, but did you realize that flax seeds are brain food–containing critical non-meat sources of the Omega-3 oil.
The keyword here is lean. Americans eat far too much protein compared to the rest of the world. Cut down of portion sizes–three ounces will provide all the needed protein needed for your day. Also, trim all visible fat from your protein source. Alternatively, use non-meat substitutes such as the complete proteins found in vegetable dishes like beans and brown rice.
Depending on the type of tea you prefer, you can get an energy boost from a cup of green tea, or the calming effect of chamomile tea. Get going with mint teas or start your day with Earl Grey Breakfast Tea. Herbal teas are soothing, tasty and good for you. Non-herbal teas will help you to stay alert when you need help to function.
Olive oil is probably the healthiest substance you can use to keep fat in your diet. You can use it on your salad, mix it with a little vinegar to create your own or fry other foods in the hot oil. Just make sure that the temperature is not too hot so that the oil is broken down.
Gone are the days when people think of cooking as a task that should be done only by women. In the past, women were traditionally relied upon to cook the meals for the family, do the dishes and clean the house, and be in charge of just about every domestic task there is. But times have changed and women now play very different roles in society unlike what women of the previous decades were accustomed to.
This change in gender roles has affected both women and men — especially in terms of taking the lead kitchen. Today, both men and women now appreciate the art of cooking. People with exceptional culinary skills are highly compensated. For that reason, it is no wonder that the stress that used to part and parcel of cooking is now experienced by both men and women. Food, after all, is about pleasing the senses of people who partake of one’s kitchen creations.
Cooking and stress are not often associated with each other. The word cooking easily connotes gustatory pleasures and not stress which is often linked to one’s work at the office or to problems at home. But it should not be a surprise to know that stress and anxiety now affect the men and women who do the cooking as much as the salesman who tries to meet his daily quotas or the manager who faces enormous organisational challenges.
In restaurants, for example, there are now more male cooks or chefs. These kitchen experts follow a so-called chef’s ladder that defines the rankings and specific tasks of each person in the kitchen. There is the head chef or Chef de Cuisine who visualises the dishes in accordance with the restaurant concept of dining. Next would be the Executive Chef, who actually runs the whole kitchen, manage the costs, hire and fire staff, revamp the menu, do certain administrative tasks. Under them would be the Sous Chef who make the daily specials, takes inventory, watches over the staff, and does the hands-on work in the kitchen. Also called the Expediter the Sous Chef makes sure that the food gets to the table in a timely manner, a task that requires coordination and time management. With the same level as the sous chef, the pastry chef is in charge of the pastry section of the restaurant. Mostly women reserved for women, this job requires preparation of chocolates, souffles, and sweet pastries.
Under these chefs would be the line cooks who are the ones who actually cook the food. The line cooks are divided according to certain cooking speciality. Another key member of the kitchen is the Chef de Garde Manager who manages the cold food section that includes the salads and desserts.
If you have watched an episode of the t.v. cooking show, Iron Chef, you would probably know how stressful it is to work as a chef or a line cook. In that show, the cameras usually show the stress and anxiety in the chef’s faces as they try to prepare a certain number of meals under time pressure. Anxiety is also seen on the chef’s faces when the judges are tasting their dishes.
In another popular reality-based television show called Hell’s Kitchen, several people enter as contestants in a game that is supposed to select the next big chef in town. Being a reality show, Hell’s Kitchen often shows the stress and anxiety on the faces of the contestants while the host shouts and gets mad at them for not doing certain things right in the kitchen. Anxiety grips each contestant as they try to battle out to win the throne of being the next best chef.
Isn’t it amazing that there are hundreds upon hundreds of over-the-counter medications for every possible ailment, ache, pain, and mood – and yet many people still do not look to food as their source of power?
Mother Nature knew exactly what she was doing when she provided us with all that we need for a healthy, well-balanced diet and the tools that we need to get through our day, our week, and our lifetime.
While every food has its benefits, here are the five most worth mentioning:
1.The white meat found in chicken contains the essential vitamins B12, B6, and B3. Chicken can assist in lowering your risk of stroke and also boost your mood. Chicken is low in fat (especially with the skin removed) and high in protein. Besides all the nutritional benefits, chicken is so versatile; it can be cooked in so many ways using a variety of tools such as the outdoor grill or an indoor rotisserie. And the B vitamins provide a host of benefits such as:
* Fighting off anaemia
* Maintaining healthy blood cells
* Warding off heart disease
* Increasing energy
* Boosting the immune system
* Converting carbohydrates into energy
2. Broccoli and salads especially salads made with leaf spinach have many benefits. Broccoli contains vitamins A, C, and E while spinach provides folate, which helps to maintain and produce newer healthier cells for the body. Vitamins such as A, C, and E help to boost the immune system; this could mean less time off sick and shorter duration of ailments such as the common cold.
3. Bananas For a sweet treat at any time during the day, reach for a banana. The benefits of a banana are numerous. You can choose to eat a banana as it is, or you can add it to a yoghurt or a bowl of multi-grain cereal. Either way, you will gain the benefit of a quick energy boost that sustains you for several hours along with the mood-altering benefit of the B6 vitamin that bananas are rich in. In addition, they taste good too!
4. Dark chocolate The good news is that good quality, dark chocolate has many benefits to help make you feel great. The cocoa in chocolate has heart-healthy benefits such as lowering your cholesterol and reducing heart disease. That is not all; dark chocolate can lift your mood significantly with its tryptophan and magnesium. Grabbing a piece of high-quality dark chocolate will not only help your heart, it will also help your mind.
5. Whole grains have been found to contain selenium which has been shown to significantly reduce depression. Whole grain slices of bread with your favourite spread or even an all-natural peanut butter provide fibre, selenium, and protein. The nice thing about whole grains is that you can mix and match whole grain bread with different spreads and come out with a variety of healthy foods that make you feel great in the end.
So you’re a healthy eating convert, and you want to start making sure all your meals are perfectly balanced. If you’re on a limited budget, though, you might have a problem. There’s a reason why most people get too much carbohydrate and fat and too little protein: most kinds of protein are expensive. Meat and cheese, two of the best sources of protein, are also two of the priciest ingredients you can buy.
So, if you want to eat healthily on the cheap, what’s the answer? Well, it might surprise you. What you need is beans.
Beans are a cheap crop, readily available in large tins for not very much money at all, and yet they are an excellent source of protein, and taste good too. There’s no shortage of variety, either: you can get everything from baked beans to kidney beans to butter beans, all lined up there in the same section for you. If you’re not sure of what to do with them, find some vegetarian recipes, which tend to be very bean-heavy, and give them a try.
It can even be nice to mix together a few different kinds of beans and have a bean salad with a sauce – a simple side dish, but an easy way to add protein to your meal. Pasta with a dairy-based pasta sauce containing beans is an example of an ideally balanced meal, as long as you don’t overdo it with the pasta, as is rice with bean curry.
Of course, I’m not recommending that you stick to beans for your protein all the time, as you’re bound to get sick of them eventually. If you can replace meat or cheese with beans even occasionally, though, you’ll save a lot of money without affecting the balance of your meal.
I have been on a vegetarian diet-or to be more exact-a vegan diet for close to 10 years now and although the first 3 were erroneous based on my actions as a result of misinformation, the last 7 or so have been the healthiest of my entire life. Not only has this dietetic lifestyle been the main reason why I’ve been able to cure my terrible case of acne, it also miraculously cured my bad breath (to the point that I honestly don’t have the so-called morning breath) asthma and overall lethargy.
The benefits of a vegetarian diet have led me to convince many associates to make a similar dietetic change. This is the main reason why I now write this article for your edification if you are interested in such a dietetic lifestyle.
I will go over the popular items usually consumed by non-vegetarians and give you reasons why these substances need to be eliminated or drastically reduced from the human diet.
The Vegetarian Diet: Avoided Products and Reasons Why
I am of the belief that giving up all flesh foods may be highly beneficial to the health seeker. Fruits and raw vegetables contain ascorbic properties that prevent various diseases. Meat, however, may be affected by such dreaded diseases as intestinal worms etc.
Many medical doctors forbid their patients to eat meat to alleviate gout rheumatism. The Russian Dr. Buteyko advises all asthmatics to abstain from ALL animal products and processed foods. This discipline has helped many an asthmatic to give up ventolin. I am living proof of that. Meats are in a decomposing state, producing a host of poisons, uric acid and mucus in the body.
They are highly unbalanced, containing a great excess of protein while almost completely lacking in calcium and growth promoting vitamins and minerals. Experiments reported by Farger and Walepole in the journal of Physiology and Pathology show that putrefied meat contains many toxic substances, some of which cause the blood pressure to rise which is why physicians forbid it to patients suffering from high blood pressure.
If you must eat meat or flesh, do eat only one kind of it in a day in very small quantities and spaced very far and few between say once or twice a week and then with plenty of green leaves and starch-less vegetables.
I will touch on other items consumed by non-vegetarians and present the reasons why such items shouldn’t be consumed…and why you may want to consider a vegetarian diet for improving and maintaining your physical, mental and spiritual health.
Scientists have found that the body forms unstable oxygen molecules, called free radicals; every cell produces tens of thousands of them each day. A free radical is basically an atom with an odd number of electrons in its outer ring.
Since electrons have a very strong tendency to exist in a paired rather than an unpaired state, free radicals indiscriminately pick up electrons from other atoms, which in turn convert those other atoms into secondary free radicals, thus setting up a chain reaction, which can cause substantial biological damage. This, in short, is bad. There are also many kinds of free radicals, which we are exposed to everyday, for example, pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke and herbicides.
Vitamin E: a fat-soluble vitamin found in vegetable oils, nuts, green leafy vegetables, and fortified cereals. Some of the foods containing the highest amounts of vitamin E are wheat germ oil, almonds, sunflower seeds, sunflower oil, hazelnuts, peanuts, spinach, broccoli, kiwi and mango.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant vitamin involved in the metabolism of all cells. It protects vitamin A and essential fatty acids from oxidation in the body cells and prevents breakdown of body tissues.
Vitamin C: Ascorbic acid is a water-soluble vitamin present in citrus fruits and juices, cabbage, green peppers, broccoli, spinach, tomato, kale, guava, cantaloupe, kiwi, papaya, and strawberries.
It is important in forming collagen, a protein that gives structure to bones, cartilage, muscle, and blood vessels. Vitamin C also aids in the absorption of iron, and helps maintain capillaries, bones, and teeth.
Beta-carotene: Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A. It is present in liver, egg yolk, milk, butter, spinach, carrots, squash, broccoli, yams, tomato, cantaloupe, peaches, and grains.
Studies have been done on beta-carotene’s effectiveness for heart disease, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, fibromyalgia, male infertility, and psoriasis.
Coenzyme Q10: CoQ10 boosts energy, enhances the immune system, and acts as an antioxidant. A growing body of research suggests that coenzyme Q10 may help prevent or treat some of the following conditions: heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and others. Primary dietary sources of CoQ10 include oily fish, organ meats such as liver, spinach, broccoli, peanuts, wheat germ and whole grains.
Selenium: Selenium is a trace mineral that is essential to good health but required only in small amounts. It helps synthesise antibodies; helps synthesise co-enzyme Q10and helps transport ions across cell membranes. The best sources of selenium are Brazil nuts, wheat germ, molasses, sunflower seeds, whole wheat bread and dairy foods.
One more thing; sometimes less is more. Some of these antioxidants are only needed in small amounts, so check into whether you need to take more or not, before you start overdosing on antioxidants!
Learning about vitamins can be confusing, especially when you are trying to figure out just what type of supplements you should be taking. We’ve all been told at one time or another, that if we ate a nutritionally balanced meal three times a day we wouldn’t need dietary supplements or need to know about vitamins, but of course, this just isn’t realistic in our society.
A huge number of us are stressed out on a routine basis, and don’t always have time to eat at all let alone a nutritionally balanced meal (and three of them?!). Vitamins should never be substituted for good nutritional intake. Your body needs fuel to accomplish all the tasks you have to attend to in a day. A good diet is one with plenty of calcium, protein, fats, carbohydrates, and fibre supplemented by vitamins as needed for specific health concerns.
Many food items are enriched with vitamins and minerals, like breads, pastas, and cereals. Information about vitamins listed on packaging includes the percentage of the daily recommended allowance of each, which will give you a pretty good idea how much you are getting of a certain vitamin or mineral. Calcium is an important mineral for women, and most sources about vitamins state that women should consume at least 1200-1500 mg of calcium daily. Most calcium supplements only contain 30-50% of the recommended daily amounts and must be supplemented by diet intake of other sources, such as cheese, yogurt, milk, and ice cream. About vitamin D, this is an important vitamin and is essential to bone health, and is included in some calcium supplements as well. Vitamin D can be absorbed through the skin via sunlight as well, but for people living in northern states, or for the elderly, this is not always an option, therefore a vitamin supplement is the answer.
Part of taking care of yourself is learning about vitamins and minerals that our bodies require for optimal health. Many sources are available to you to learn more about vitamins and how certain vitamin deficiencies as well as excess intake can be detrimental to your health. It’s important to take an active role in your health, and be knowledgeable about vitamins in your cabinet and which are right for you. In addition to searching on the web, you can find an abundance of information about vitamins in various health publications, or you can even consult a nutritionist or naturopathic physician for advice about vitamins and supplements, and how you can implement them into your diet. Here’s to your good health!