Nutrition and Mental Health

Nutrition and Mental Health

written by: Dr. Randi Fredricks
by: Dr. Randi Fredricks
San-jose-counseling-nutrition San-jose-counseling-nutrition

The influence of diet in causing and preventing physiological and psychological disorders is well established, as is the importance of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in maintaining health. Nutritionists go one step further by using diet and nutritional supplements to treat and prevent illness. They look for nutritional deficiencies, food allergies andintolerances, and for lifestyle and environmental factors that disturb the digestion and the full absorption of nutrients. Food intolerances and allergies can contribute to a wide range of mental health problems, including anxiety, depression,addiction, eating disorders, and Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Highly processed "junk" foods, deficient in essential vitamins and minerals and high in refined sugar, salt, fats, and chemical additives, negatively impact physical and psychological well-being. In addition, even those who eat a balanced diet and have an otherwise healthy metabolism, can be adversely affected by environmental toxins. Industrialization, traffic pollution, and the use of pesticides result in food that contains excessive levels of heavy metals, namely lead, cadmium, mercury,and aluminum, all of which have been associated with neurodegenerative diseases, including dementia, Alzheimer's disease, autism, and schizophrenia. Scientific research has proven that good health is directly related to the quality of food eaten, and that inadequate diet negatively affects mood and even hastens aging. The source of our nutrition has become critical as crops grown in poor soil lack essential micronutrients, yet are abundant in toxic chemicals. Meanwhile, antibiotics and hormones fed to livestock find their way into our food chain. Getting what we need from our food isn't as easy as it used to be. To function, the body must have a balance of all the essential nutrients; proteins, carbohydrates, fats and oils,minerals, vitamins, and water. Improper diet and nutrition eventually result in an increase of blood acidity and deterioration of body's metabolic mechanisms. This leads to fatigue, insomnia, mild depression, and anxiety. Physical problems at this stage are generally limited to a lowered immune system, weakness, and headaches. Initially, the symptoms are minor, but tend to get more serious over an extended period of time. As health issues get more severe, depression and anxiety tend to worsen. More serious physical health problems may develop, such as constipation, digestive problems, fatigue, skin problems, hormone imbalance, and anemia. Food intolerances and allergies place additional strain on the mind and body. The toxic overload created by food allergies upsets the body's homeostatic processes by overtaxing the liver and kidneys, the organs responsible for detoxification and elimination. When nutrition and general health is not improved, the onset of life-threatening health problems occurs, including major depression, anxiety disorders, dementia, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer. This kind of progression is not part of the normal aging process. Many diseases can be prevented with a change in diet and proper nutrition. When needed, nutritional therapy has been shown to be health promoting, providing that the outcomes are carefully monitored. Nutritional therapy has evolved over the years into a scientific and comprehensive healthcare system that can prevent and restore balance when illness occurs. Many chronic long term conditions that have not responded to conventional treatment are the result of underlying biochemical imbalances that respond well to nutritional therapy. For many people, environmental factors and nutritional deficiencies are so serious that dietary adjustments alone may be insufficient. In these instances, high doses of vitamins and minerals—well above the accepted recommended daily levels—may be needed. In order to determine appropriate dosages, a nutritionist or physician will order the appropriate tests and carefully monitor progress. To learn more about how nutritional therapy is used in mental health counseling, visit http://drrandifredricks.com.