By Ellen Farrell, MA, NCC, LPC, EEM-AP
What you eat affects your mood, outlook, energy level, and (of course) your overall health!!
Always explore nutritional, psychological, and medical concerns with your medical and mental health professionals!
Here are some good nutritional choices/info…
– Pure, filtered or reverse osmosis water – know what is in your H2O! is your tap water better than your bottled spring water? No – get your water checked, and avoid plastic bottles as much as possible.
– Cook pasta and vegetables al dente (firm-Dr. Andrew Weil’s recommendation). Consider whole grain or alternate, ancient grains.
– Eat lots of garlic, and a variety of vegetables and whole fruit, (not just juices)
– Choose natural complex sugar alternatives, (maple syrup, honey, Agave Nectar, Florida Crystals). Stevia is lower is fructose and comes from the stevia plant! I like it in the Organic, liquid form such as from Now brand ‘Better Stevia’. The powder in packets is great for travel, such as Sweetleaf brand.
– Avoid high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)* and other highly processed sugars, which are often found in sodas (in addition to high caffeine content, which affects your ability to sleep). This can lead to hypertension, reduced immune function, and pre-diabetes. *Many suffer from Gout, or neuropathy in later years from too much acid in the body – too many processed and rich foods are the culprit. Toxic chemicals and poor nutrition of a non-organic diet further contributes to poor health. Research Jarrow brand SUSTAIN ALA – and read about their Alpha Lipoic Acid tablets; Magnesium ascorbate. Be sure to get a good source of vitamin C! I still use Ester C with bioflavinoids (tablets + whole food sources such as Garden of Life brand).
– Avoid artificial sweeteners – see: http://www.ethicalinvesting.com/monsanto/aspartame.shtml ; http://www.holisticmed.com/splenda/
– Avoid eating these highly processed sugars in place of a meal! Vary meat and dairy as only major source of protein – they are higher in fat and have no fiber!
– Consider WILD caught, coldwater fish, such as Salmon and Mahi tuna (check current lists for safety re: toxins and high mercury levels) – also consider high cholesterol levels are in some fish or shellfish. Remember, non-animal sources of protein are also an option!!! All veggies contain protein!
– Consider ORGANIC soy, mushrooms, and other beans, which are high in fiber, protein, and are cholesterol free.
– Use good oils (unrefined, cold-pressed) – sauté or broil foods, use EVOO, ORGANIC olive oil, sesame, sunflower, safflower, or cold-pressed Coconut – also substitute Earth Balance ORGANIC ‘butter’ for high fat/cholesterol butter, or ‘trans fatty acid’ margarine (hydrogenated oils – the only life they extend, is shelf life). They increase bad cholesterol, and decrease good cholesterol! Avoid all soy, corn, cottonseed oils (or palm oils that are not fair trade, and eco-harvested)!
– Read Labels and eat more fresh, local, whole foods!
Did You Know . . .
– Overuse of highly processed sugars and foods; high stress (feeling overwhelmed due to current stress + traumatic past events or chronic: verbal, physical, or situational abuse) – + overuse of antibiotics can lead to immune system breakdown: allergies, and food sensitivities, systemic candida, chronic fatigue, mood swings, depression, and anxiety disorders, muscle tension, etc. *2016 update: GMO foods and many grains (at harvest) are heavily sprayed with toxic glyphosates and other chemicals. These chemicals can lead to tumors, gut biofilm/dysbiosis and other immune system and hormone imbalances and issues.
– Overuse of caffeine and white sugar (or all HFCS or whatever new name they may use to try to confuse consumers such as : “fructose”) may deplete the adrenal glands, and over time this may increase the ‘fight or flight’ response, which reduces the stress threshold, increases anxiety levels – and may also be a factor in sleep problems, and diabetes/sugar, and mood imbalances.
– Overuse of especially factory-farmed meat/dairy (in addition to effects on cardiovascular, circulation, and colon health), preservatives, rancid oils, (as in deep-fried and hydrogenated oils) can: cause fluctuating hormones; the liver to be overwhelmed; and can be a factor in acne, PMS, mood swings, hot flashes, and other peri-menopausal symptoms.
– Hydrogenated oils (margarine), in which the molecular structure of fats is altered, and all essential fatty acids (EFA’s), vitamin E, and any beneficial components are destroyed, contain Trans Fatty Acids (TFA’s). These interfere with the function of the pancreas, and cause it to secrete excess insulin. It has been linked to diabetes, infertility, obesity, immune dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, and possibly cancer.
– Recent and continuing research supports positive effects of using DHA and EFA’s in treating ADHD, Dyslexia, or Dyspraxia, supporting heart health, immune system and brain cell functioning, as well as infant brain development and visual function.
– One can of soda, by itself is said to reduce immune system functioning by 50%. Traditional commercial soda (vs. health food store organic sodas) is typically made with HFCS (from GMO corn, which is sprayed with RoundUp also contains neonics and BtToxin), or non-organic cane or beet sugar (these are not GMO crops, yet to increase harvest yield, they are also all drenched with glyphosates and other Monsanto toxins found in RoundUp) or other toxic synthetic sweeteners. Sadly if you randomly check for links online, the chemical industry has flooded it with faulty studies. I recommend movies such as Bought; Symphony of the Soil, etc. …see this article from theintercept.com, 2016: new-evidence-about-the-dangers-of-monsantos-roundup/
Here’s The Good News…!
There are many natural options that support health, and increase vitality. Super greens like chlorella are a great source of Beta Carotene, minerals, and protein. They promote sugar balance, are low fat, and are cleansing to the blood. Many varieties of brands/products exist and all may differ somewhat in their nutritional components (such as: Sun Chlorella, Pines, Earthrise)… beware of where these are sourced; it’s recommended that it be from Korea or other location west of where Fukushima released radiation (eastern Japan), although reports are very conflicted, and with the stakes so high, it is hard to trust reports saying everything is all fine.
– Good sleep is key to good health! There are many natural sleep aids! you may want to research passionflower tincture1 Ashwaganda! Turn of tech after 7-8PM – a few hours before bedtime! Research such products as Source Naturals ‘NutraSleep’ and even Traditional Medicinals ‘Nighty Night Tea’ or ‘Calming‘ tea from Yogi. Also consider if you are getting enough mineral content in your diet! *Minerals such as Magnesium, Zinc, and others may be depleted due to GMO food intake – these minerals and amino acids like tryptophan, are critical for sleep, and bone and muscle function. Magnesium and Zinc deficiencies have been indicated in many cases of ADHD, but it is often recommended that a Red Blood Fatty Acid Analysis be done, as well as RBC blood tests for zinc/copper and Mag, + hair and urine levels of vitamin/mineral levels. *Warning! Avoid GMO/ sprayed foods. Remember all animals that come from factory farms eat these GMO corn/soy with the RoundUp chemicals – unless labeled free range/pasture raised or grass fed, organic. Glyphosates are documented to block uptake of minerals!!!!
– There are healthy options for high sugar juices, and high caffeine beverages. Use ‘Not from Concentrate’ minimally, or try green teas (which may reduce skin cancer), mild ginseng’s which are adaptogenic and tonic root herbs (i.e., American or Siberian/Eleuthero ginseng), herbal teas, and more pure water, or water with lemon! Add just 4-6 drops of stevia for instant zero calorie lemonade!
– EFA’s (essential fatty acids, GLA –gamma-linolenic acid) are important to have in your diet – non-saturated fats include Omega-6’s found in raw pumpkin and sunflower seeds, walnuts, almonds and pecans. Omega-3’s are in fish oils, and flaxseed. Dried beans (i.e. kidney, red, pinto, soy) are rich in both Omega-3 and -6.
– Remember – balance is the key! Maintain awareness of genetic influences (strengths and weaknesses), and variations in activity and stress levels. Monitor your energy and food intake boundaries! Choose to spend your energy in alignment with your heart, and vision for a happy fulfilled self, now.
– Choose to be healthy – do your best! Take time for self care! Be nice to your body and it will work with you and be there for you! *2016 updates… we did not know what GMOs were doing to us back in 2001 when this article was originally created.
This article was originally printed for use in workshops provided at SCAD, where Ellen was a Counselor from 2001-2006.