Building resilience for mental health

Did you know that major depression is thought to be the second leading cause of disability world wide? 

It’s now commonly accepted that mental illness isn’t just a disease of the brain. Indeed, biochemical imbalances are just one piece of the puzzle. Inflammation, food intolerances, raised blood sugar levels and negative thought patterns are some of the other examples of how mental illness is brought about in the body.

Furthermore, we know that lifestyle and dietary factors can trigger mental illness and exacerbate the symptoms. Things such as foods high in saturated fats, sugar and artificial sweeteners, which cause inflammation in the body, can make symptoms worse. Also, spending hours on social media, breathing in environmental toxins such as car fumes and major life stressors such as the loss of a loved one, can all play a role in challenging our mental health resilience.

The good news is there are a whole variety of strategies we can add to our daily routine, that help increase our resilience to life’s stressors. Some of the proven self-help interventions are listed below.

Interventions include:

  • relaxation
  • yoga
  • meditation/ guided meditation
  • exercise
  • humour
  • music and singing
  • nutrition
  • pets
  • community involvement

A naturopathic perspective

Naturopathic practitioners use nutrition and herbal medicine to take an evidence based, holistic and patient-centred approach to preventing disease or disease progression. Practitioners may recommend certain dietary interventions, nutritional supplements and herbal medicine to help achieve your health goals.

Try these top nutrition tips to boost your mental health:

  • Eat healthy fats every day. These are high in EPA and DHA and found in foods such as avocado, oily fish and raw nuts and seeds.
  • Increase foods high in B vitamins, zinc and magnesium, as they are essential for normal brain function. Think raw nuts, organic meat, leafy greens and brightly coloured vegetables.
  • Increase your intake of polyphenols, which are natural neuro-protective agents found in fresh, brightly coloured vegetables, fruit and spices. Examples include brassicas, berries and turmeric.
  • Check in with your gut – any ‘IBS’ symptoms are a sure sign that things are out of balance. Since 95% of our serotonin receptors are in our gut, it’s no wonder that an unhappy gut often equates to an unhappy mind. Your digestive system will thank you for bone broth, kefir, a good probiotic and intermittent fasting.
  • Reducing processed foods as they cause dis-ease throughout the body.

Studies have found  that vitamin C reduces oxidative stress and can improve outcomes in schizophrenia.

There are improved outcomes in mood disorders when patients consumed anti-inflammatory agents such as curcumin and fish oil supplements.

There is more and more evidence coming to light showing that mental health isn’t just about the brain. We all have the power to change our own level of health just by tweaking certain diet and lifestyle factors.

Note: It is important that you do not change or remove any prescribed medication without the guidance of your medical doctor.

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