Published by Irked Magazine 2009-It is now quite strongly believed that a poor diet may cause problems with mental health. The lack of omega-3 in diets has been well advertised in recent years, and from what I understand the brain is made up of approximately 20% of essential fats which need to be maintained, and much of this maintenance is missing from the modern day diet.
Omega-3 is an “essential fatty acid” which helps the brain to function as it should. Obviously, if the brain is missing out on the fats and nutrients it needs, then it may not be able to function properly!
Upon reflection, my own personal diet from a young age was very poor and so was my diet for many years into adulthood. If a poor diet has played its part in my own diagnosis of schizophrenia, which comes with cognitive difficulties, concentration difficulties, depression and so much more in this “fruit and nut cake” of a mind, I just don’t know!
Feeding the mind the correct nutrients is becoming very important to me, now that a strong stability has been found. I have always had to rely on medication to help contain emotions, but I wonder how much the correct nutrients from more natural sources can really help me to maintain and build on that stability?
After recently meeting Rebecca Collis-Lealman of Mission Nutrition here in the UK, I am beginning to understand with far more clarity the great importance of feeding the mind the correct nutrients it needs. Rebecca is a Nutritional Healer and is teaching me how to feed my body the “correct nutrients” and, thus, create a more healthy mind!
After talking with Rebecca extensively about how my mind works and the difficulties I sometimes face, she believes my mind can heal further by eating less of the “clearly damaging” processed foods and more of the basic needs the modern day diet seems to be lacking.
Rebecca believes that “feeding the body the correct nutrients helps to establish a healthy mind! Failing to do so can lead to the manifestation of a toxic body and also toxic thoughts!”
It has been very interesting for me to learn that essential fatty acids (EFA) can help maintain good cognitive function as well as ward off depression (i.e. can help produce serotonin).
Rebecca explains: “Cognitive function can be helped by the reduction of saturated fats and the increase of EFAs. As the membranes of the brain cells are up to 65% EFAs, without them it is hard to think straight and remember what we are doing! So, for those with obvious low levels of EFAs, it is essential to ensure they have a diet that is rich in the right balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6. Without a good amount of EFAs in our diet, our concentration and memory are negatively affected. This would be obvious as the membranes of the brain cells are made up of mainly EFAs.”
Serotonin: Over the years, I have been on medication to help balance serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin needs to be produced to help with control of emotions, such as depression. Rebecca has informed me that feeding myself the correct nutrients and omega-3 can help produce serotonin in a natural way. I have also learned that omega-3 deficiency may also decrease blood flow to the brain—which is interesting, as recent studies have shown that patients with depression have compromised blood flow to a number of brain regions.
Our EFAs make up between 50-65% of our cell membranes, the highest percentage being in the brain. Restoring a good EFA profile boosts nerve chemical activity and may lower the levels of stress hormones released, both of which could benefit those like myself who have been diagnosed with a mental illness (in my case, schizophrenia).
Water: Yes, we all know water is important! But I am learning through Rebecca why and how the water truly affects us and how water can help maintain not only a good body but good mental health!
Rebecca explains: “70-85% of our body is water. Without water our internal body lives in a fearful state, fear of not being able to allow the body to achieve its full potential and fear of never knowing when the next water will come in! Chronic dehydration leads to chronic fear. A lack of water affects our internal and external structures of the body. Water is also needed in the production of Serotonin!”
So, as Rebecca keeps saying to me: “Get bloody busy drinking the stuff!”
Dehydration also causes deposits of toxic substances in the body, especially the brain and the liver. Water is needed to flush these out, and those diagnosed with severe mental illness need their liver working well to help deal with the medication.
I survive on a very low dose of Seroquel and, in honesty, I am not sure if I need it. Maybe I use it as a psychological safety net, but maybe with the correct guidance and help from Rebecca and of course using her expert knowledge about nutrition, my safety net may change and instead it may become an avocado, omega 3, omega 6, and the correct EFAs needed. Who knows?!
I am not planning to stop my medication, not just yet. But I have always believed that one day I can be medication free. My main symptoms of mental illness are not that worrying—now, in later life, depression is the main culprit and my Seroquel keeps that at bay very effectively by working with serotonin. If the serotonin levels can be balanced and increased by nutritional healing, it seems a wonderful potential way to progress with my ongoing recovery from my diagnosis. It’s a tasty option!