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Most of us know at least one person who has been treated for mental illness. While treatment of the mentally ill has come a long way, there are many pathways yet to be uncovered. Due to mental illness in our family, and having seen the suffering of too many people, in the late ’80’s, I decided to search for alternative/complementary methods that would enhance outcomes. I was intrigued when I learned about Orthomolecular Medicine and glad I found the health professionals that use it in their practice.

I discovered from the Canadian Society of Orthomolecular Medicine (CSOM) and the International Schizophrenia  Foundation, (ISF), www.orthomed.org, that a diagnoses of mental illness doesn’t have to mean the end of a patient’s life as he or she knew it. It was good news.

What is Orthomolecular Medicine?

Orthomolecular medicine, a term coined by Linus Pauling, double Nobel Laureate involves treatment by optimizing health and treating disease by providing correct amounts of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, essential fatty acids and other substances which are natural and essential to the human body.

Your body is powered by your dietary intake – nutrients. We can get these nutrients though high quality food and through supplementation. The brain is living tissue and must receive nutrients to do its work. The brain is a ‘nutrient hog’ taking 25% of all nutrients you eat to sustain itself.  The brain is 60% fat and it needs quality fats, vitamins and minerals to thrive. The quality of your food will influence the quality of your brain and its functioning. For example rancid fats from French fries on a repeated basis can get lodged in our bodies in places where healthy fats should be to power the body – especially the brain.

Why Don’t You Know About Mental Health and Nutrition?

Vitamins, minerals or other natural substances can’t be patented. No vitamin sales people knock on physicians’ doors with free samples. Also, nutrition is low on the list of subjects in medical schools. However, those who practice orthomolecular medicine – evidence based medicine, check for nutrient deficiencies as possible causes for mental disturbances. Every other branch of medicine does lab testing, why not psychiatry?

What Physical Problems can Affect Mental Illnesses?

  • High or low blood sugar levels cause mental symptoms to peak.
  • Vitamin B12  deficiency causes confusion, fatigue, weakness and severe mental symptoms. Other B vitamin deficiencies including folic acid can contribute to many forms of mental disorders.
  • Anemia (low iron levels) is sometimes confused with dementia.
  • Low thyroid has been shown to be common for those with schizophrenia.
  • Low levels of Vitamin D stores directly relate to depression.
  • Those with mental illness often have food allergies or digestive problems.

Orthomolecular psychiatrists also use medications since they were traditionally trained psychiatrists. They found that adding nutrients to patients’ protocols reduced medication side effects and enhanced both mental and physical health. Many medical doctors, naturopaths, registered nutritional consultants or other health professionals use these adjunct orthomolecular treatments for both mental health and physical problems. Abundant Information is available about nutrition health benefits.

Are Vitamins/Minerals Safe?

Some fear that vitamins in high dosages are “not safe”. View testimony before the Government of Canada, House of Commons Standing Committee on Health, regarding nutritional supplement product safety (Ottawa, May 12, 2005) by Andrew Saul PhD, at: www.doctoryourself.com/testimony.htm

Ignorance abounds on the subject of vitamins. Using orthomolecular treatments can help people recover, enjoy life and become productive members of society. Other therapies that are helpful include: exercise, relaxation techniques, having adequate housing, social support. Like all people, those with mental illness cannot spend endless time alone unattended. Stigma of mental illness still abounds and must be countered.

CSOM provides peer to peer doctor and other health professional training programs on this subject of therapeutic nutrition. ISF promotes the wide use of orthomolecular medicine and provides public seminars, hosts an annual professional conference, publishes the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine and a quarterly newsletter.

If you suffer from mental illness or know someone who does, check out www.orthomed.org. You’ll be glad you did.

It’s conference time – time off from work, no household chores, great food and it’s free. Expect to feel exhilarated by all the new information you will take in, yet, wonder why by the end of the trip you feel like you’ve been run over by a steam roller. You may have trouble keeping awake during the long days inside, with no windows in conference rooms and many speakers to listen to. Don’t be surprised if at the end of the conference you end up with a bad case of jet lag. You may feel bloated and irregular. So what can you do to get the most out of conferences and still feel half human?

Being aware of your meals and snacks might help to ease the upset in schedule and to your system. You can be sure that meals will include rich desserts and often there will be plenty of muffins or chocolate chip cookies for snacks. So you think, “a little won’t hurt”. And it’s true a little won’t hurt – if you can stop at ‘a little’. Too much sugar may result is a dip in energy, and mental fog.

A large dose of dense carbohydrates (sugar, bread, desserts, cakes), with its brand of empty calories, can temporarily raise your blood sugar (as can caffeine), so that you feel a high, lots of energy – but not for long. An hour or two later, your blood sugar may plunge and you begin feeling lethargic, not able to concentrate. You begin thinking, “if only I could have a little nap!”

Remember that food alters your mood, and good wholesome foods such as fruit and vegetables nourishes the mind and body along with aiding regularity. Most conferences now include yogurt or fruit for snacks. It would be a good idea to reach for these high energy snacks. If there’s a grocery store near the conference centre, the following is a list of healthful snacks that will feed your brain and body and keep you alert! Some items such as power bars, you can bring with you.

Perfect snacks for high energy include:

×    fresh fruit – apples, peaches, plums, grapes etc. along with nuts or seeds

×    dried fruit; dates, figs, cranberries

×    power bars that contain protein

×    vegetables (baby carrots or cherry tomatoes) and nuts

×    nuts (raw almonds and walnuts) sunflower or pumpkin seeds

×    yogurt and fruit

×    cheese and fruit (or whole grain crackers)

These high powered snacks provide you with the needed protein and complex carbohydrates that your mind and body loves. In small amounts, they won’t make you fat, yet provides your body with needed nutrients. If your concentration is getting low, you just might be thirsty. Carry bottled water around with you and drink often. Water helps prevent dehydration, jet lag and boosts energy.  Some form of exercise – even walking around the block before the conference starts or at breaks will give your muscles an oxygen boost. You’ll feel revived, especially if the sun is shining outside.

Regarding desserts, on a scale of one to ten, have a taste and if it’s a ten, don’t feel too guilty and enjoy, or take a few bites. Otherwise, if the dessert isn’t great, the sugar content may not be worth it.  If it’s a dessert that contains fruit, remember that fruit supplies the body with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.

Enjoy the conference; enjoy the meals. However, a few small changes may just help in your overall mood and concentration level so you can be fully aware, energetic and vital.

Are you feeling sluggish from too many sweets, chips, bread, wine or fast food consumed over the holidays? Now is the time to fine tune your brain and body for a great year ahead!

1.   Balance your blood sugar

  • Eat whole grain breads, rice or pasta (complex carbohydrates). Don’t overdo these. Reduce white bread, white rice or pasta.
  • Don’t skip meals.
  • Reduce tea, coffee, sugary foods, sugary drinks and cigarettes.
  • Reduce alcohol.

2.  Essential fats – these keep your brain (and heart) “well oiled”.

  • Eat fish such as salmon, trout, sardines, herring mackerel or mackerel a couple of times a week.
  • For snacks, have seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin and nuts such as raw walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts. Use cold pressed olive oil on salads.
  • Stay away as much as possible from fried foods or fast foods.

3.  Phospholipids – helps memory and boosts the brain.

  • Eat fish (especially sardines) at least once per week.
  • Eat at least three eggs per week; (omega 3 eggs are beneficial).
  • Include lecithin (on your cereal or in yogurt) to help memory. Also available in capsule form

4.  Amino acids – these are the brain’s messengers.

  • Include protein foods such as meat, dairy, fish, eggs, and tofu which contain amino acids at least once or twice per day
  • Beans, lentils, quinoa, seeds, nuts, whole grains are vegetable sources of proteins that contain amino acids. Include some each day.

5.  Smart nutrients – vitamins and minerals fine tune your mind and body..

  • Five to seven servings of fresh fruits and vegetables are necessary each day.
  • Include one portion of a dark green vegetable each day.
  • Take a multi vitamin/mineral supplement each day.

Reference: Optimum Nutrition for the Mind, Patrick Holford

Today is the first day of the rest of your life.  I wish all of you a happy and healthy New Year.

Rushing! Heart is racing! Frantic – frustration at traffic jams. Now we know it’s holiday time! Time to take a breather – even in the midst of stress, over commitment, plus money, time and family pressures. There are ways to stop the pounding heart and anxiety and to cope in a healthier fashion.

1) Right now take a deep breath in through your nose. Hold for a few seconds, then breathe out slowly through the mouth. Do it a few more times. If you do some deep breathing a few times a day, this small act can actually bring down blood pressure and calm anxious feelings.

2) Get hold of your day and become more organized. Make a list the night before of all the things you need to do the next day. Decide when you can do those chores and mark it in your calendar. Don’t drive from one end of the city to the other the same afternoon or evening. Try to schedule stops around the same areas if possible.

3) Walk slower, even if you’re in a rush. When you hurry, there’s more chances of slips, falls, accidents – which will really put a dent into your holiday fun. Decide you are not going to act frazzled, look frazzled or talk in a frazzled manner.

4) When shopping, bring a water bottle with you to keep hydrated. Keep healthy snacks in your bag, in your car – almonds and an apple, cashews and some dried cranberries, a healthful power bar. Don’t skip meals.

5) Don’t overdress in shopping malls; getting overheated will make you feel exhausted. Make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes or boots. Aching feet will exasperate stress levels. Try not to do all your shopping in one evening – spread out your purchasing over a few visits.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah or best wishes for other enjoyable holiday celebrations. Especially spend time with those whom you love and make you feel happy.

All the best,

Rosalie Moscoe, RHN, RNCP

http://www.healthinharmony.com

You bet. If you feel tired, run down, are irritable a lot of the time with stress levels going through the roof – look to your diet.People forget that each cell is power by nutrients – even your brain cells. Many people know about serotonin and that the brain needs it for good moods. However, the brain also needs vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, proteins, and complex carbohydrates.

 Is your diet giving you all the raw materials to keep you calm, feeling energetic? Or is it the cause for your being tired, bloated, poor digestion and not being able to cope?

 So where do you start? Just by eating more vegetables in a day (even in soup), plus 2 or three pieces of fruit each day is a great start. Make salads your best friend. Can’t be bothered to prepare? Then at least stay clear of the fast food fare, or if you really must have a burger – order a salad. Nutrients in fruits and vegetables increase your nutritional status – give you vitamins, minerals, such as magnesium that calms nerves.

 Lack of adequate protein in your menu plan can leave you exhausted and cause brain fog. Proteins contain amino acids, necessary for many functions in the body including making neurotransmitters in your brain.. You don’t need a lot, but include 2 – 4 oz. per meal depending upon your weight – (low amount for a small woman and the higher amount for a large man). Don’t forget the fat! Eat a handful of raw almonds, pecans or pumpkin seeds to keep you fueled and your brain happy.

 Simple changes can give you dramatic results. Try it!

For nutrition health benefits that include enhanced brain power, relaxation and a happier mood, try these simple, tasty, yet powerful breakfasts for your children (or yourself!)

  • 1 or 2 eggs, 1 slice of whole grain toast, a little butter or almond butter, and ½ cup of berries
  • Vegetable omelet and a slice of whole grain toast or scoop of brown rice
  • ½ – ¾ cups cooked oatmeal mixed with 2 tbsp. of rice or whey protein powder, milk or yogurt. Sprinkle on almonds or pumpkin or sunflower seeds.
  • Turkey breakfast sausage (organic) with 1 egg and whole grain toast with a little butter.
  • A slice of mozzarella or havarti cheese on a slice of whole grain toast. Include a small piece of fruit or ½ cup of berries.
  • Brown rice with beans, add melted cheese.
  • Home made muffin or one from a health food store – (whole grains, low sugar). Add a handful of almonds or pumpkin seeds or a slice of cheese.
  • Bowl of cereal with milk, soy milk, or almond milk. Cereal – no or low sugar; choose grains other than wheat for a healthy change. Add berries and sunflower seeds or almonds.
  • ½ – 1 cup of cottage cheese – ½ – a whole small banana or other fruit and a if still hungry, add a slice of whole grain toast with butter.

 

Clip taken from a radio talk show in which Rosalie was featured on. A caller asks about Avocados hearing mixed opinions on how healthy it is for you.