Building a Foundation for Mental Health by lonyoo


									                     Building a Foundation for Mental Health
If you want to be mentally healthy, you can build a foundation for mental health by attending to
your physical well being. This is because, the biological processes that influence mood,
anxiety, perception, attention, and inhibition are compromised by deficits in physical health.

Also, if you are able to achieve greater physical well being, the cognitive processes (thinking
patterns) that influence mental health are easier to adjust or reshape toward the end goal of
improved mental and emotional well being.

To actively pursue physical well being it is ideal to simultaneously attend to the following
lifestyle elements. Each element contributes to physical health in its own way. Each is
important. PLEASE NOTE: This list of lifestyle elements is an introduction to the paths for
achieving physical well being or health. It is a starting point or introduction to more
comprehensive investigation/education/discussion. Please do not make any changes in your
current lifestyle until you feel confident about the rationale, benefits, and risks of the change
you are undertaking. In particularly, please consult with your physician prior to initiating any
change (such as initiating an exercise program) that you feel may be too strenuous or

   1. Exercise – There is no question that regular exercise is an important component of
      maintaining physical health. In addition, multiple studies indicate that regular exercise
      has anti-depressant and anti-anxiety benefits. The benefit appears to increase as the
      intensity and duration of the exercise increases but only to a point. Beyond this point,
      additional intensity and duration are counterproductive. For example, for most people,
      aerobic exercise like sustained jogging is more beneficial when starting out than
      walking or, at the other extreme, strenuous running.
   2. Relaxation – Making time to relax is a powerful antidote to both physical and emotional
      stress. Make time to relax each day (a period when all tasks and deadlines are put
      aside in favor of recreation, listening to music, reading a book, etc.). Attention to
      breathing patterns can also be beneficial at achieving a more relaxed/less stressed
      physical and emotional state.
   3. Sleep – Adequate sleep is a critical component of both physical and mental health.
      Make time to sleep and attend to sleep “hygiene”.
   4. Relationships – Relationships and the emotional support they offer are an important
      element in reducing stress and in improving both physical and mental health. Make
      time to relate positively to others in your family or support network.
   5. Nutrition/Diet – The effects of diet on physical health are widely known. The effect of
      diet on mental health is frequently ignored. This is in spite of ample evidence linking
      the so-called “Western” diet to mental health problems. To improve physical health
      and build the best possible foundation for mental health it is important to: PLEASE
      NOTE: The following items are offered as an introduction to the topic of nutrition/diet's
      role in physical/mental well being. They are general guidelines geared toward
      achieving a foundation for mental health. In the case of dietary supplements, additional
      supplements or changes in dosage are likely in order to address specific symptoms.
      1. Avoid foods that have added sugar, sweeteners (like corn syrup), saturated fat,
          trans or partially hydrogenated fats/oils.
      2. Avoid most processed and “fast” foods. Eat a wide variety of foods that are
          minimally processed such as fresh/organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains,
           organic meats, wild caught fish, etc.
        3. Be aware of causes and symptoms of “sugar sensitivity” and “hypoglycemia” due to
           the “simple” carbohydrates in sweetened foods (ice cream, cakes, cookies, donuts,
           etc.) and in grain products (cereal, white breads, white rice, etc.). Choose foods
           that have a low “glycemic index/load”.
        4. Be aware of the potential for allergies to wheat and/or diary and any food eaten in
           excess. Allergic reactions to foods can influence mood.
        5. Avoid more than limited intake of caffeine and alcohol.
        6. Take supplements of:
              a) Essential Fatty Acids, particularly fish oil (the best source of omega-3 EFAs)
              b) a multivitamin formula
               c) a multimineral formula (may be combined with multivitamin)
        7. Consider experimenting (see note1) with additional supplements of:
              a) calcium/magnesium (600 mg. calcium, 300 mg. magnesium – this supplement
                      should be adjusted depending on your intake of diary products – please
                      refer to references below)
              b) zinc (50 mg.)
              c) vitamin E (400-800 IU as mixed natural tocopherols)
              d) vitamin C as ascorbic acid (1000-2000 mg. 3X day)
              e) vitamin B3 as Inositol Hexaniacinate or No-Flush Niacin (250-500 mg. 3X
              f) vitamin B6 (50 mg.)


Babyak M. et. al. Exercise Treatment for Major Depression: Maintenance of Therapeutic
  Benefit at 10 Months. Psychosomatic Medicine 62:633-638 (2000).

Benson H. and Klipper M. The Relaxation Response. New York, NY: Harpertorch, 1975.

Hoffer A. Healing Children's Attention & Behavior Disorders: Complementary Nutritional &
  Psychological Treatments. Toronto, Ontario: CCNM Press, 2004.

1 Using vitamins in amounts above the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) to achieve improved physical
  health or improved mental health is controversial. Critics contend that taking vitamins above the RDA
  amounts is, at best, wasteful and, at worst, dangerous. The danger, in the minds of the critics, comes from
  the potential for toxic or undesirable effects and from delaying or stopping conventional treatment for any
  disorder or disease. Proponents of using vitamins to optimize health and treat illness counter that the
  vitamins most commonly used (C, B3, B6, and E) are safe when used in large doses and have few side
  effects and no serious adverse effects. There is no substitute for educating yourself about the role that
  vitamins play in health. Only then can you make an informed choice about adding supplements to your diet.
  The supplements and amounts listed are based primarily on the work of A. Hoffer, MD, Ph. D. Additional
  study of the references provided is necessary to understand how these specific vitamins influence physical
  and mental health, to understand exactly how much to take to treat specific symptoms, to understand the
  potential risks from supplements, and to understand what improvements in functioning can be anticipated.
  You may also wish to consult with your physician about monitoring liver function and overall health while
  taking large doses of vitamins, particularly if you are in ill health or suffer from any chronic physical health
  ailments (liver disease, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, alcoholism, G-6-PD deficiency, etc.) or you
  take prescription medications of any type.
Hoffer A. and Walker M. Putting It All Together: The New Orthomolecular Nutrition. New
  Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing, 1996.

Holford P. The New Optimum Nutrition Bible. Berkley, CA: The Crossing Press, 2004.

Levy, T. Curing the Incurable: Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins. Henderson, NV:
  Livon Books, 2002.

Saul A. Doctor Yourself: Natural Healing That Works. Laguna Beach, CA : Basic Health
  Publications, 2003.

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