Home About Consultations Store Fees/Policies FAQArticles Resources Contact

Natural Stategies To Improve Your Emotional Well Being

by Leanne J. Sotir, PhD, RNCP

Stategies For Emotional Well BeingCurrently fifty-eight million people are diagnosed with mental and emotional health disorders according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (2000). This statistic correlates into one in four. The four most common mental disorders currently affecting Americans and people in developed countries are major depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), Schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Other common emotional health disorders that plague many individuals are anxiety, eating disorders, ADD/ADHD, addictions and autism. Research shows a strong increase between mental health conditions and the change and deterioration of the western diet. The western diet of today is mainly comprised of processed foods that are void of nutrients that are needed for a healthy body and brain. The alteration of these foods from their natural source has contributed to various food allergies and sensitivities. Very few people are eating a whole foods diet that contains many vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids, enzymes and good bacteria. All these nutrients work synergistically and are need for optimal physical and mental health. There are many nutritional and natural strategies a person can explore when improving their emotional wellbeing. 

Whole Food Nutrition
One of the most beneficial changes you can make towards improving your emotional health is dietary changes. You can begin by removing all processed foods from your diet such as boxed, canned, and packaged foods, these contain additives and unecessary chemicals. Alcohol, caffeine, sugar, sugar substitutes, soda (included sugar-free) refined carbohydrates, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats and oils should also be avoided. Choose whole foods consisting of wild fish, grass fed meats, organic fruits and vegetables, and raw nuts and seeds.

Optimum Digestion
Our digestive tract is often referred to as our “second brain” for a good reason. Important neurotransmitters are made in the gut, in fact, ninety five percent of serotonin is actual produced in the digestive tract (Lipsky, 2005). B vitamins which are also manufactured in the gut, are cofactors in the production of many other key neurotransmitters that are necessary for optimal well- being. We also need to have an abundance of healthy bacteria residing in our digestive tract in order for these nutients and neurotransmitters to be made. An imbalance of good bacteria (dysbiosis) has been linked to conditions such as ADD/ADHD, Autism, learning disabilities, and mood disorders.

Rule Out Food Intolerances and Sensitivities
Certain foods, often ones that appear as a healthy part of your diet can hinder your emotional health. If you eat an offending food, over time it can damage your digestive tract and inhibit your body’s ability to make and absorb necessary key nutrients for brain health and overall immunity. The most problematic foods consumed today are gluten/wheat, dairy, and sugar. Take notice of the most commonly eaten foods in your diet by keeping a food journal, this can help you discover which foods may be contributing to your emotional health issues.

Rule Out Nutrient Deficiencies
Preventing nutritional deficiencies is a must! The most common nutritional deficiencies seen in mental disorder patients are omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, magnesium, and amino acids (Lakhan & Viera, 2008). Another nutrient that is essential for the state of our emotional well-bing is vitamin D. The Berk et al (2007) study revealed vitamind D deficiency may play a significant role in depression as well as other mental disorders.  Support brain health by choosing a high quality multivitamin/mineral, fish oil, probiotic (50 CFUs) as well as additional magnesium and antioxidants (vitamin B complex, vitamin C, and coQ10).

Avoid Low Cholesterol Levels
There is an abundance of research available which supports the relationship between low levels of cholesterol and depression, violence and aggression. Cholesterol is needed for the metabolism of serotonin and acetylcholine which are important neurotransmitters that are involved in the regulation of your mood. This may be why many people who are lowering their cholesterol levels with statin drugs report depression as a major side effect. A Swedish study conducted with 300 women ages 31-65 explored the connection between depression and low cholesterol levels and found the women that were in the lowest-level cholesterol group had the highest rates of depression and depressive symptoms.

Daily Sunshine
Daily Sunshine is a great way to maintain healthy levels of vitamin D that are needed for balanced mood, restful sleep, and your overall emotional health. Your body makes vitamin D from absorbing sunlight (UVB) rays through your skin using cholesterol as its catalyst. The best way to ensure you are getting enough vitamin D, and at safe levels, would be to go out in the sun for approximately 10-15 minutes daily between the hours of 8:00 am to 11:00 am. If you suspect you are low in vitamin D have your medical professional check your levels before taking extra. The 25 (OH)D or 25-hydroxyvitamin D is the most accurate test.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Along with a healthy diet and maintaining optimal digestion, daily exercise can boost your mood and improve emotional issues by increasing the endorphin levels in your brain. Research shows higher levels of certain opioid peptides (endorphins) in the blood after exercising. Be sure not to over- exercise, this can deplete too many antioxidants that your body needs for  a healthy brain. Other modalities that have been reported as being helpful for stress and anxiety are daily meditation, deep breathing, visualization, cognitive behavioral therapy, herbal medicine, and flower essence therapy.

Is Medication The Answer?
The most commonly prescribed antidepressants include Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI’s) such as Prozac, Effexor, Paxil, and Zoloft. Although these are necessary for certain individuals and situations, many people are becoming discouraged by the side effects (weight gain, anxiety, and mood changes) and are reporting that they are not very helpful. Implementing some of the nutritional and natural strategies in the article may be a positive step forward in improving your emotional health naturally.

*This article only scratches the surface of all the components involved in emotional and mental health issues. Education is always the most powerful tool one can use to find out the best choices for one’s particular emotional issues. Everyone is unique and what may work for one person may not work for someone else. The nutritional and natural strategies recommended in this article should always be used along with proper medical diagnosis and supervision. Always consult your medical doctor before going off any prescribed medication or implementing any new remedies.

 

REFERENCES 

American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (2000). Fourth Edition, Washington, DC 

Berk, M., Sanders, KM., Pasco, JA., Jacka, FN., Williams, LJ., Hayles AL., Dodd, S. Vitamin D deficiency may play a role in depression: Medical Hypotheses. 2007′ 69; 1316-1319.

Lakhan, S., & Viera, K. F. (2008). Nutritional therapies for mental disorders (electronic version). Nutrition Journal. Retrieved May 1, 2011, from http://www.nutritionj.com/content/7/1/2 

Lipsky, E. (2005). Digestive wellness. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Psychosomatic Medicine:. Journal of Behavioral medicine, (2014), Vol. 79; 7