Nutrition and Supplement Hacks To Recharge and Stabilize Your Mental Health

Photo credit: Kenrocks

Recently I’ve made a ton of changes to my lifestyle that are profoundly impacting my health in a positive way. My anxiety in particular reached a point where I needed to assess what I was allowing into my body. Mental health is a narrow road that when deviated from, sends you to the depths of the abyss. There are certain people who for some reason are blessed with extraordinary mental health, and it doesn’t matter what they eat or what activities they engage in. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not one of these people, and since you’re reading this you’re probably not either. For us, we must stick to the narrow road.

Eliminating coffee

Most people jump to adding things to their diet and lifestyle when really they should start eliminating. Coffee is like alcohol in that society readily accepts it as an approved habit. Society accepts alcohol and sells it on every street corner despite it being responsible for millions of deaths. The same goes for coffee. When people tell me they don’t do drugs I ask them if they drink coffee. There is a Starbucks drive thru where I live that is nearly always filled with addicts (who don’t think of themselves as such) looking to get their fix.

I am not demonizing coffee but it’s the last thing you should be drinking if you already have heightened anxiety. Coffee increases cortisol and releases adrenaline, 2 extremely stimulating hormones. The caffeine in coffee prevents the neurotransmitter Adenosine from binding in the brain. This neurotransmitter is inhibitory, meaning it suppresses the central nervous system. Every hour you’re awake the levels of Adenosine rise, priming you for sleep and slowing you down. When you drink coffee, the caffeine prevents Adenosine from binding in the brain causing you to feel alert. This effect floods the brain with unusable Adenosine and when the caffeine leaves your system, all the unused Adenosine floods through the gates causing an energy crash.

Caffeine through various mechanisms also produces Dopamine, making it easy to grow dependent on this artificial energy producer. Coffee is a drug and like all drugs, best used in moderation or not at all.

Eliminating coffee has brought my anxiety and overall mental health back down to manageable levels.

Eliminating alcohol

This one was huge for me personally. I found alcohol serves no purpose whatsoever. In fact, I can’t think of single moment where I can look back and say “Yep, glad I had booze.”

At best it’s a social crutch used to relieve the pressure of going out and socializing. At worst it’s a complete and total destroyer of personal health, families, and relationships. People who drink alcohol have all kinds of excuses to justify drinking this poison. I mean, the stuff is absolutely toxic.

Once in the body alcohol makes quick work of invading nearly every organ and system. Inhibition replaces judgement as the toxin coarses through your veins. The body immediately recognizes alcohol as a poison to be disposed of. Your liver goes into panic mode getting rid of the toxic poison. Abuse of alcohol over time causes the liver to become fat and scarred making it harder to remove toxins and ultimately leading to a premature death.

In the short term, your stomach burns with acid and toxins causing you to become nauseous. You vomit because you’re literally poisoned.

Alcohol throws off the entire brain in a cascading cluster fuck of chaos. The depressant effects may relieve depression temporarily but the next day the brain is left depleted, worse off than it was before.  You shake because your liver was so busy getting rid of the booze it didn’t have time to release any sugar into your blood. You shake as you pick up your phone to see who you texted, what you did, and how much money you spent.

If you drink VERY rarely it’s probably okay but keep in mind, according to your brain and body (and bank account) alcohol is extremely toxic and NOT pleased.

Eliminating processed foods

Most people are so out of touch with their bodies they can’t feel what they are doing to themselves. Meals are wolfed down like some beast in front of the TV with little regard as to what’s being eaten. All day eating all kinds of candy bars, sodas, pastries, chips, artificial sugars, high fructose corn syrup, etc. Food we didn’t evolve to eat.

Eliminating processed junk is something even the vegans and meat eaters can agree on. Basically if it comes in a box don’t eat it. Before you eat something ask yourself – is this something you could go out into the wilderness and find? Last time I checked there is no such a thing as the Snickers tree. Eating this way has nothing to do with science, it’s common sense. You don’t need a million studies to show you why eating a sweet potato is better than eating a pop tart.

Also drink nothing but water. Exceptions can be tea or coconut water as long as you’re not adding sugar. Fruit juices are just as unhealthy as soda. They pack zero fiber so the sugar  immediately burns up in your bloodstream, giving you a quick rush and then an almost immediate crash. Fruit juices have added sugar on top of the sugar already in the fruit.

Stable blood sugar levels are crucial to mental health and overall energy.

Getting more Omega 3s and fats

Omega 3s are an interesting aspect of nutrition and are linked to decreased inflammation and decreased risk of heart disease. Inflammation of course being a huge factor in developing life threatening diseases. Brain inflammation in particular is theorized to be a cause of major depression and anxiety. Since the body can’t make Omega 3s you must supplement them with nutritious foods.

The problem is if you’re eating the average western diet (burgers, fries, fried foods) your body is getting overloaded with Omega 6. Omega 6 is pro inflammatory. Before modern agriculture humans were eating a diet consisting of mostly Omega 3 rich foods like seafood and nuts. As we developed our agricultural prowess we began to see high omega 6 oils come into play. Now instead of getting mostly Omega 3s we are eating mostly Omega 6s which are extremely inflammatory and disruptive to our bodies.

Common cooking oils and their omega fatty acid contents

Nowadays I pack my oatmeal with flax and chia seeds and make sure to eat as much fatty fish as I can afford. Canned fish does the job and is relatively cheap compared to fresh wild caught. I stopped cooking with high Omega 6 oils and started cooking with Coconut oil and hemp oil.

Making this switch alone has given me much more control over my emotions.

Aside from Omega 3s, the brain loves nutritious fats found in avocados, grass fed butter, Ghee, Coconut oil, and even the occasional prime rib. Adding extra fat into your diet makes you satiated for longer and gives the brain what it needs to function at an optimal level.

Supplements

I’ve been a supplement addict for a long time and have pretty much tried everything.

What I’ve found is most supplements are snake oil and only a handful actually work.

Here’s a few I’ve found to be extremely effective for mental health.

CBD Oil – CBD is a Cannabinoid found in the Cannabis plant. CBD interacts with the Endocannabinoid system in your brain to produce a number of interesting effects. CBD is anti-inflammatory, extremely calming, and makes you feel stable. I use a tincture from CBDistillery. It’s expensive stuff but worth every penny. I find that I’m more likely to brush things off that would normally trigger panic and anxiety.

Ashwagandha – This is an indian herb heavily used in Ayurvedic medicinal practice. Ashwagandha is an adaptogen and whole-body-tonic. It’s proven to lower cortisol and traditionally used to promote strength and vitality. Ashwagandha translates to “smell of the horse” paying homage to the unique smell of the herb and to its strength bolstering properties. In my personal experience this herb is extremely calming to the nervous system. It also makes you extremely horny. A healthy sex drive is a premium marker for overall health. I use an Ashwagandha extract called Sensoril.

L-Theanine – L Theanine is a popular nootropic supplement for good reasons. This is a compound found in green tea shown to produce Alpha brain waves. Alpha brain waves are associated with feelings of calmness and relaxation. This is great stuff to take the edge off a hectic day.

Magnesium  – Magnesium is known as the original chill pill. It’s involved in over 300 biological processes and has some interesting studies behind it involving the treatment of anxiety and major depression. Most notably Magnesium acts as a powerful calming agent by blocking stress hormones from entering the brain and reducing the responsiveness of the adrenals. All this contributes to you feeling calm and centered. The thing is, most people are totally deficient in Magnesium due to poor nutrients in our soil and our water supplies being completely stripped of minerals during processing. I like to use Magnesium oil and apply a healthy amount on my skin 30 minutes before a shower.

I can also go into things like Piracetam, Phenibut, and lots of other nootropics but in this post I’m sticking to “natural” supplements that can be safely used as daily drivers and more approachable for the average person.

Conclusion

Mental health is a narrow road that requires daily maintenance and upkeep. As you begin to make healthier choices you’ll notice right away when your body or brain comes into contact with something toxic. Then it’s only a matter of getting back on the road and staying the course.

 

 

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