NATURAL MENTAL HEALTH FOUNDATIONS
Nourish for Natural Mental Health
Nourish your brain to support natural mental health.
Adjusting your eating habits is one of the simplest ways to naturally improve your mental health.
Focus on making changes and adjustments to your diet to ensure you are nourishing your system with foods that promote mental health.
Incorporate The Resilient Diet Principles
We have created The Resilient Diet to integrate seamlessly into your daily life. It is not a set of restrictive rules or detailed recipes. Instead, the Resilient Diet is made up of six broad guidelines or principles. These principles can guide your nutrition whether you cook for yourself, cook for a family, or don't cook much at all.
1. Eat whole, natural foods.
2. Eat a wider variety of foods.
3. Eat less toxic foods.
4. Eat more brain protective foods.
5. Eat more brain-nourishing foods.
6. Diet first, supplement second.
Enhance Your Resilient Diet
Now that you have the principles of The Resilient Diet, learn a few more in-depth practices to build an even stronger foundation.
1. Eat more frequent meals and keep portions small.
2. Have a modest amount of protein with each meal and snack.
3. Build your diet around whole, complex carbohydrates.
4. Include healthy fats with nearly every meal and snack.
5. Stay well-hydrated.
6. Eat more slowly.
Eat Mindfully to Improve Digestive Health
The practice of mindfulness means being aware of what is happening within and around you in the present moment. This practice can be done while eating to enhance enjoyment and support digestive health.
When you practice mindful eating, you avoid distractions (like your phone) so you can fully notice and appreciate the colors, smells, flavors, and textures of your food. You'll chew more slowly with this practice, which benefits your digestion and satisfaction while eating. Mindful eating may also help you:
- Reduce overeating and binge eating.
- Lose weight.
- Cope with chronic eating problems such as anorexia and bulimia.
- Reduce anxious thoughts about food and body.
- Improve symptoms of Type 2 diabetes.
Read more about the practice to learn how it can impact your digestion, which can, in turn, contribute to positive mental health outcomes.
Learn the practice.
The Mindful Eating Practice
Use Probiotics and Prebiotics Occassionally
Restoring and maintaining optimal mental health requires a multi-pronged approach that supports your mind, body, and heart. A key part of that holistic approach involves caring for your gut. Your gut's microbiome can become unbalanced due to a lack of helpful bacteria or overabundance of unhelpful bacteria (pathogenic bacteria, fungi, or parasites). When this occurs, it can be helpful to re-balance the microbiome with probiotics (the healthy bacteria) and to boost the necessary nutrients these healthy bacteria need to survive and thrive with special probiotic foods called prebiotics.
It's best to eat a diverse diet and have exposure to a variety of appropriate micro-organisms in daily activities to boost your microbiome. However, supplementation can be very helpful when diet and daily exposure are not enough, such as after an acute illness, after a course of antibiotics, when experiencing certain bothersome GI symptoms, or due to unhealthy dietary practices.
Your gut (AKA gastrointestinal tract) primarily includes the stomach, intestines, liver, and pancreas. A collection of micro-organisms call your gut home- a housing situation often called the "gut microbiome." I call these helpful micro-organisms "good bugs" and they include a zoo of bacteria, viruses, yeasts, and fungi. Good bugs communicate with your brain constantly via chemical messengers and nerves. Some help manufacture neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA and also help make vitamins needed for optimal brain functioning. Good bugs also support your response to stress and contribute to healthy immune system activities. Given their big jobs, it's vital that you take good care of your bugs. Use the strategies below to help them thrive.
Probiotics can help support mental health due to their production of various biologically active compounds like neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that help create various emotional experiences. These chemicals include gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), serotonin, and acetylcholine. When these neurotransmitters are secreted in your gut, they can then communicate with the central nervous system and affect behavior and brain functions.
Probiotics for inflammation
Beneficial bacteria, or good bugs, also offer anti-inflammatory actions. Chronically elevated levels of inflammation throughout the body can lead to an inflamed brain (AKA neuro-inflammation). This inflammation can lead to depression and likely plays a role in ADHD, autism, and dementia. These good bugs can help cool inflammation in the digestive tract and brain.
Probiotics for oxidative stress
Probiotics can also provide a positive antioxidant effect. You can think of too much oxidation (called oxidative stress) as a "rusting" of the brain cells. Just like rust on a car, this isn't good for the structure. Individuals diagnosed with depression and anxiety tend to exhibit heightened oxidative stress which can cause neuroinflammation and lead to a host of problematic changes within the central nervous system. Probiotics can reduce this oxidative stress and improve nerve cell function in ways that support positive mental health.
Specific bugs may also impact mental health in specific ways. A handful of studies have suggested that these bugs may be particularly helpful for mental health. As you probably guessed, if there are good bugs, there are also bad ones. There is some evidence that the bacteria listed below may contribute to mental health problems.
Prebiotics and Probiotics
Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that promote the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestines. Consider these the "chow" that good bacteria need to eat to survive and thrive in your digestive tract. For various reasons, the prebiotic material normally present in food has been reduced or even eliminated in food manufacturing processes. A prebiotic supplement can help make up for deficiencies in key nutrients normally received from food. Prebiotic supplements generally include substances like glucomannan, arabinogalactan, and inulin
Whether or not you take a supplement, look to include the most common forms of prebiotics in your diet. These fiber substances are found in vegetables, fruits, and whole grain products. Try dandelion greens, chicory root, onions, yams, garlic, asparagus, flaxseeds, jicama, bananas, and apples. Grains like oats, barley, and wheat bran are also good.
Cool side note: Prebiotics are considered to be a cross between a food and a drug since they are capable of providing health benefits while being composed of common carbohydrates.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that have a health benefit when taken or given in adequate amounts. A probiotic substance or preparation involves a microorganism introduced into the body for its beneficial qualities.
Cool side note: Psychobiotics are live organisms that, when ingested in adequate amounts, produce a health benefit in patients suffering from psychiatric illness.
Probiotics can be found in a variety of fermented foods. Try yogurt, kefir, fermented pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh, and kimchi. They can also be taken as a supplement (like Resilient Remedies' Balance).
Different probiotic types are used to treat different medical conditions. Take the time to research what condition you are wanting to treat and identify the best probiotic microbes for that purpose.
Resilient Remedies' Probiotic, Balance*
Balance is a vegetarian, dairy-free, and gluten-free, four-strain probiotic totaling 30 billion CFU† per capsule. Each vegetarian capsule is sealed in nitrogen-purged aluminum blister packs to serve as protection from factors proven to compromise the stability of probiotics such as heat, moisture, and oxygen.
Balance provides four researched strains of beneficial bacteria, including the extensively studied HN019 strain of Bifidobacterium lactis. These live microorganisms have proven health benefits and well-established safety, and have been tested for epithelial cell adhesion and/or resistance to low pH.*
Tips for using probiotics
1. Take a course of 1-20 Billion CFU’s of a probiotic a few times each year.
2. Take probiotics with food.
3. Some probiotics require refrigeration to remain potent.
4. Stagger probiotic and antibiotic dose by at least 2 hours.
5. Follow the recommended intake on the label carefully.
6. High doses should be taken under the supervision of a healthcare provider.
7. Prebiotics may be beneficial.
Explore Natural Mental Health Foundations
Follow the practices found in each of the following sections to build a strong foundation and optimize your mental health.
Learn about the NMH foundations and how to use the practices and implement the information found in this section.
Sleep is one of the most important foundational steps on your journey to resilience and natural mental health. Learn practices to help you sleep.
Learn about the Resilient Diet, a set of twelve nutrition principles that can optimize your brain for better mental health.
We've created three Resilient Movement Plans in order to help you find a movement routine that works for you.
Mind-body practices are valuable tool to help you feel more comfort in your body, settle down your mind, and awaken your being.
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This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice and is not a replacement for advice and treatment from a medical professional. Consult your doctor or other qualified health professional regarding specific health questions. Individuals providing content to this website take no responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. It is also essential to consult your physician or other qualified health professional before beginning any diet change, supplement, or lifestyle program.