by Michele Carelse on April 15th, 2011 at 7:00 am
It’s the age-old question: Mental fitness vs. physical health? The truth is, the two should go hand-in-hand! Unfortunately, mental health is often overlooked. While we spend our days working out in the gym, counting our vegetable servings, and chomping vitamins, sometimes our mental health is not monitored or nourished with as much attention – until sadly, issues arise.
Depression, anxiety and stress have become common disorders, both at home and in the work place. It seems to be a fact of modern life. Furthermore, although it goes unseen, these conditions can wreak havoc on the body – from raising blood pressure to disrupting sleep patterns, fluctuating weight and lowering the immune system – all the while threatening physical health.
Rather alarming is the rate of childhood depression and anxiety across all nationalities. In South Africa, it is estimated that 1 in 5 teens consider inflicting physical harm on their bodies and 1 in 33 children suffer with an emotional disorder of some kind (such as depression or anxiety).
For both young and old, mental health is vital. An adequate evaluation is key, and should you suspect that yourself, a family member, or your child might be suffering with an emotional disorder, speak to a Clinical Psychologist or to your GP for further investigation and support. Discuss the positive and negative consequences of conventional medications, and discuss the length of time required on the medication as well as the long-term effects.
It is also important to consider the natural approach. Natural medicines offer a safer, gentler alternative, while still containing quality and great therapeutic benefits. Many studies have shown the beneficial properties of natural herbs that have been used for centuries to support the brain and nervous system. Natural medicine offers support without the risk of harm to other body systems – and many of the formulations can be adjusted for effective use in children.
Food and Your Mood: Tips for Mental Wellness
Here are a few healthy habits and tips for using good food as ‘brain medicine’:
1. Increase Water Intake
The first rule of brain nutrition is to drink enough water to hydrate your system. Even slight dehydration can damage your brain over time. Drinking around 2 liters of water a day should be just enough!
2. Practice Calorie Restriction
Eating fewer calories helps to control weight, and decreases risk for heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses. Eating too many calories at any meal, regardless of the carbohydrate or protein content, seems to diminish mental performance. This is because high calorie meals will mean more serotonin production (your brain’s “feel good” chemical), leading to a short-lived “high”, followed by a “serotonin slump.” Reducing your calorie intake does not mean living on next to nothing! But eating smaller nutritious foods low in calories at intervals throughout the day is the best option.
3. Load Up on Dietary Antioxidants
Eating loads of fruits and vegetables may significantly reduce the risk of brain deterioration. When a cell converts oxygen into energy, tiny molecules called free radicals are made. When produced in normal amounts, free radicals work to rid the body of harmful toxins and keep the body healthy. When produced in large amounts, excess free radicals result in cell death and tissue damage. Vitamin E and vitamin C, found in certain fruits and veggies, help to stop the production of too many free radicals.
4. Consume Smart Fats
DHA – a form of Omega-3 fatty acid, makes up a large portion of the gray matter of our brain. The fat in our brain forms cell membranes and determines how well our cells function. Omega-3 fatty acids may help promote a healthy emotional balance and positive mood in later years. The two F’s, fish and flax, are the top brain-building foods for growing children, and adults. Supplementing with cod liver oil or flaxseed oil is an easy way to provide your brain with the essentially fatty acids it needs.
MindSoothe™ Promotes balanced mood, emotional health and feelings of well-being