All people with brain disorders need a whole body/whole life approach to treatment–no one medical practice is sufficient. Neither mainstream psychiatry or naturopathy have all the answers for mental health, but both provide important treatments: diet, medication, therapy, exercise, gut health, and sleep, etc. This article is about brain diet specifically–foods which support or improve brain health.
These are some general rules for this food:
- Uncooked vegetables are ideal if appropriate. Cooking removes some of the essential nutrients.
- In the case of fish, raw may not be appropriate except for sushi or pickled herring. For fish that’s canned, choose fish packed in oil, not water. Omega-3’s are dissolved in the oil, but removed in the process of packing in water.
- Variety is important. Concentrating on a few foods exclusively is not helpful because you and your child still need additional nutrients that are important for your overall health.
- Food is better than supplements because food nutrients are properly absorbed in the body in the right ‘dosages.’
Be aware of food fads. There are no miracle foods.
Over the decades, people have been bombarded by different dietary research, and demanded foods that were reported to have benefits at the time. Food producers then labeled and provided whatever the public wants.
- A good example of a fad years ago was fat-free and oil-free foods. As it turns out, additional studies proved this was actually harmful–people need fats in their diet, but just a selection of fats.
- For decades, coffee and chocolate were once considered harmful, but this has since been proven wrong for most people.
- Diet sodas were supposed to be better than sugary sodas, but as medical research and understanding advanced, this was disproven. Sugar-free sodas are actually more harmful.
- There’s been an antioxidant craze. Yes, antioxidants are important, but these nutrients alone are insufficient for brain health.
- The “paleo diet” was big for a while. It was the great idea of someone who was not a paleontologist. Paleontologists themselves aren’t comfortable with the theory because they are still finding evidence of what early humans actually ate.
- “Gluten-free” foods are considered the only safe options. Gluten is very bad for a small segment of the population, but not most people. What’s funny as that even water is labeled gluten-free. This is from a dish detergent label:
Vitamin D deficiency is serious for mental health: In the case of psychiatric health, severe Vitamin D deficiency was discovered in ~75% of adults tested in a psychiatric hospital. Other studies have shown that those with mental illness tend to have abnormally low levels of Vitamin D.
“Vitamin D’s effect on mental health extends beyond depression. Schizophrenia has also been linked with abnormal levels of vitamin D.”
“..vitamin D activates genes that regulate the immune system and release neurotransmitters (e.g., dopamine, serotonin) that effect brain function and development. Researchers have found vitamin D receptors on a handful of cells in regions in the same brain regions linked with depression.”
Take the time to learn how to prepare these foods in ways that your and your kids like!