Nutritional intervention, optimizing your biochemistry
The intimate links between body and mind mean that we must properly nourish our physical selves in order to progress psychologically and spiritually. Here we will examine the basic of proper nutrition, as well as discuss targeted supplementation for psychological issues.
Eat well and take proper nutritional supplements. For problems, consider targeted supplementation.
- Eat protein with every meal; its amino acids are crucial for physical and mental well-being and it moderates blood chemistry. Protein also helps to fill you up and keep your energy from crashing later in the day.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. A variety of bright colors ensures intake of many beneficial phytochemicals.
- Eat less “white carbs”–flour, sugar, rice, and potatoes–and replace them with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Listen to your body. If after eating a meal rich in dairy or wheat products you feel listless and heavy, avoid these foods in the future. You may have an allergy or an intolerance, or you may just operate better on a different kind of fuel.
- Eat foods rich in probiotics, like yoghurt and sauerkraut, or supplement with acidophilus and bifidus bacterium.
- Take a basic multivitamin and mineral supplement: your standard “vitamin.” Make sure that you get all the B-vitamins, plenty of magnesium, and vitamin C.
- Take an omega-3 supplement. EPA and DHA, the omega-3 fatty acids, are sold in fish oil and flax oil supplement forms; most nutritionists agree that the former is superior. Be sure that the brand you use distills the oils for purity in order to reduce possible consumption of the heavy metals (like mercury) often found in fatty fish (Nordic Naturals brand produces an excellent supplement). EPA and DHA are crucial for brain function.
For specific problems, you can supplement with specific molecules to affect your brain chemistry positively.
- Mild depression: Take 50 milligrams of pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P-5-P) per day, and make sure iron intake is adequate. Alternately, take 500-1500 mg of tryptophan daily before going to sleep. Both of these methods can increase serotonin levels in the body, alleviating mild depression.
- Anxiety: Once again, 50 mg of P-5-P daily can be helpful. Other options are 100-200 mg of the amino acid theonine per day or 1000 mg of the amino acid taurine daily. This can increase both serotonin levls and levels of GABA.
- Concentration: Take 500-1000 mg of L-tyrosine or L-phenylalanine daily in the morning to increase levels of norepinephrine and dopamine, which aid in focus.
Nutrition is a constantly evolving science. The four food groups of yesteryear have evolved, and as our knowledge of biochemistry grows, we learn more about the importance of macro- and micro-nutrition for optimal physical and mental health.
Improving diet and taking a multivitamin and an omega-3 supplement are low-risk, high-reward ways to improve physical and mental health. However, do not use any of the targeted supplementation methods above if you are already taking psychotropic medication, and if you have any ill effects please stop immediately and consult your health care practitioner. If you have any major concerns about any these problems, consider having your thyroid checked, as hormonal imbalances could lead to deficiencies in many of the brain chemicals the targeted supplementation intends to produce.
Of course, there is a flip side to nutritional intervention: substance avoidance. Smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol cause permanent brain damage, as well as the possibility of addictions that can destroy your life. Like the body, the mind is ruled by the GIGO theory: Garbage in, garbage out. Too much of the wrong fuel will keep your brain running below capacity.