A while ago I heard more talk on the media about dietary change being the first approach to tackling mental health problems. What we eat (and drink) affects us both on a mental and physical level. We need a good diet to feed our brain and the rest of our body.
One problem can emerge from consuming a diet containing loads of fat free products. How could you feed a brain (approx 70% fat) on fat free foods? It just doesn’t make sense. We have fats within our diets called essential fats – these are absolutely essential to good health and come from oily fish
e.g. sardines, mackerel, trout, salmon, etc, grass fed meats e.g. lamb, game meats e.g. pheasant, guinea fowl, etc. Nuts and seeds also provide these as do green leafy vegetables and sea vegetables.
Zinc is one of the most important nutrients for brain health and stability of moods. It is found mainly in meat, fish and eggs but seeds, pulses and nuts will also contain amounts e.g. pumpkin seeds. Vegans can be at risk on not getting enough of this essential nutrient as can people eating carbohydrate rich diets e.g. scones, jam sandwich, baked potato, chips, etc.
Protein can be quite expensive so if you are on a tight budget then you may not get enough. There are cheap cuts of meat and fish available as well as using pulses. Speak to your butcher or fishmonger for ideas. Even using fish parts (once filleted) to make a soup can be protein packed and the fishmonger could perhaps supply these.
You could make your own high protein, low fat burgers by adding pulses to the minced meat and spicing these up.
Coat them in gram flour or make patties with beans, vegetables and gram flour (chick pea flour) for a high protein vegetarian option. Tofu is also a high protein vegetarian option.
Fluids are equally important (or even more so). Many people don’t like drinking water as they are not used to doing that. My best advice is to ensure you give your children water at a very young age when you get used to it. They will then seek it out when they are thirsty.
That is so much healthier than drinking fizzy drinks or aspartame loaded diluting juices. They will also appreciate the times they get fresh fruit juices.
Drinking masses of tea and coffee is not a great solution, particularly coffee as it can be quite dehydrating. There are loads of health promoting drinks available to buy. It’s not that you need to be really extreme just mix things around. Have some green tea or herbal ones if your sleeping habits are poor. We tend to like what we are in the habit of having so make some new habits.
You can also sprout beans to add extra protein and other nutrients. When you sprout a bean the carbohydrate content changes into it being more protein rich. The vitamin content increases dramatically as well.
We won’t build a healthy brain on sugar or any of the other low nutrition foods often consumed e.g.crisps, biscuits, sugary cereals e.g. coco pops, krave, etc.,so try keeping these to a minimum and look for healthier options. As sugar is incredibly addictive its best kept to an occasional treat.
They are full of cheap margarines, white sugar and possibly other additional sugar, and white refined flour. Sure they may taste great but they can be incredibly damaging to health and weight.So if you want to feel better go for healthier options such as an egg based breakfast, a salad lunch and a tasty sir fry in the evening. That will be so much better for you and your mood than a bowl or frosties, a white bread sandwich and a McDonalds for tea.Try to include some good fats into your diet every day and remember that far free does not always mean low calorie so take a good look at labels.
There can be other more unusual nutritional based problems affecting ones mental health. A build up of Pyrolles create mental imbalance (who remembers the film ‘The Madness of King George’). This creates a mental imbalance as the body excretes vast amount of some essential nutrients e.g. zinc. This is tested for routinely in Germany but I don’t think there is the same test routinely carried out in the UK. Luckily the treatment is nutritional and highly effective.