“We need to get serious about the critical role played by nutrition.” – Julia Rucklidge, Clinical Psychologist
We pretty much all agree that good nutritional habits are vital to good physical health, yes? But what about mental health? Do good nutritional habits translate to a healthier mental state? On the surface, it would make sense. After all, the food that we eat contains nutrients – and these nutrients are transported throughout our entire body via our bloodstream. We already know that the brain requires nutrients to operate effectively…so, yeah, it makes sense.
But is eating right more important to mental health than prescription medicine?
Ah, this is a bit trickier. After all, pharmaceuticals are research-intensive and science-based products that have undergone extensive trial and error, often over a period of multiple years. These same products have earned the coveted “seal of approval” from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)…no easy task to say the least.
But, then again, hasn’t food undergone “testing” too? We’ve been “studying” the effects of food for much, much longer than medicine, haven’t we?
Scientists seem to have a pretty good grasp as to what foods are healthy and unhealthy, so why haven’t there been many hypotheses focused on the mental health/nutrition link? Going back to the underlying question, we could attempt to subjectively rationalize a “yes” or “no” answer, and we may come up with an acceptable (maybe even a good) explanation. Or we could call upon that same scientific method to help us out a bit.
What does the science say?
First, we should get this one out of the way: good nutrition is essential for our mental health, and a myriad of mental health conditions can be affected by nutritional habits. This is THE most important lesson of the entire article. Yes, it is interesting that eating healthy may be more impactful than medication; but understanding that food has a direct impact on our mental health is even more crucial.
The Mental Health Foundation – a preeminent, science-based mental health organization, based in the UK – states:
“One of the most obvious, yet under-recognized factors in the development of major trends in mental health is the role of nutrition…the body of evidence linking diet and mental health is growing at a rapid pace, as well as its impact on short and long-term mental health.”
Just as interesting is the following, again quoting from the Mental Health Foundation:
“…the evidence indicates that food plays an important contributing role in the development, management and prevention of specific mental health problems such as depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Alzheimer’s Disease.”
So, what do we know, then? Two important things:
(1) An overwhelming amount of evidence exists proving that food does have a direct effect on our overall mental health.
(2) That the food we take in can directly contribute – in ways both good and bad – to both potential and existing mental health conditions.
Most rational people accept the notion that medication (e.g. prescription medications, vaccines, etc.) plays an important role – and a positive one – in the prevention and treatment of many different health conditions.
One area that is much more contentious is the impact of pharmaceuticals on mental health. More specifically, whether or not pharmaceuticals simply “mask” symptoms rather than cure the underlying condition – as is the case with many patients suffering from anxiety and/or depression, for example.
Dr. Julia Rucklidge, professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Canterbury, is among the advocates for treating mental health disorders with adequate nutrition, despite having her initial doubts. The research that she has undertaken over years, however, has ultimately led her to a simple, profound conclusion: that “nutrition is a safe and viable way to avoid, treat, and lessen mental illness.”
To emphasize her point, Dr. Rucklidge cites her now-well-known study of ADHD patients. The adult participants were split into two groups: one group received micro-nutrients (i.e. vitamins and minerals), and the second group received a placebo (an inactive ingredient used as a basis of measurement.)
Here’s what she found:
– In eight weeks, twice the number of participants responded favorably in the micro-nutrient group than the placebo group.
– Participants that continued with the micro-nutrient regimen realized positive mental health benefits; the alleviation of symptoms.
– Participants that discontinued the micro-nutrient regimen and reverted back to medication realized worsening symptoms.
Dr. Rucklidge didn’t cease experimental efforts with ADHD patients, and continued testing the impact of micro-nutrients on patients with depression, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, and others. Similar to the ADHD study, patients responded favorably to the micro-nutrient regimen.
What does this mean?
It simply means that nutrition is a vital component to not only physical health, but overall mental health. Commonsensical? We’ll let you be the judge of that.
But, if Dr. Rucklidge and her colleagues are correct – and many indicators seemingly point in this direction – it may indeed alter how mental illness is both viewed and treated.
The Higher Self within us far transcends the understanding of our conscious minds. Each of us is connected with the Divine.
This is the power that all the great geniuses and teachers of history have accessed. It is also the place of magic and miracle in our lives.
Here are the seven key steps to contact it:
1. Belief & Expectation: Transform Your World View!
The first step is to BELIEVE that you have a Higher Self to establish communication with! Then EXPECT every day that this communication will improve as you focus diligently on inner growth.
Without these two essential pre-requisites, it is hard to achieve anything at all in life, even on the physical level.
For inner growth, these two qualities are essential. So set a GOAL to achieve contact with the Higher Self, review that goal daily, and maintain your purpose with determination until success is yours.
We are brought up with a primarily materialistic world view that neglects the role of Spirit. To establish close contact with spiritual realms, we need to have our entire being — conscious and subconscious — congruent with our goal.
In any major activity/goal, you have to establish the rules of the game and the way it is played. Contacting your Higher Self is the same.
Therefore, seek out writings and teachers that expand your understanding of the universe as fundamentally being a realm of Consciousness and Mind.
2. Solitude & Meditation
Make regular time for yourself where you can be totally alone. A quiet place is preferable. Just sit quietly with no expectations. Do NOTHING. This may feel very uncomfortable and strange in the beginning. Persist.
You give time and space for the inner voice to make itself heard. It will do so either during that quiet time, or else during the events of the day.
A synchronistic event will occur; someone will tell you exactly what you need to hear; you will get a sudden flash of insight.
All the great geniuses of history have found times of regular solitude and silence for themselves. You should too.
In meditation, you work to discipline your mind and silence the internal chatter that constantly fill it.
You create a pure vessel for the Higher Self to fill. Following your breath is an excellent meditation discipline, as is concentrating upon a candle flame.
Or visualize a golden ball of light in your Solar Plexus that fills your whole body with energy and healing. There are many practices that you can study and use.
Record your feelings, emotions, dreams and insights every day in a journal. This will help you to come into closer contact with your inner intuitive depths.
You can ask the Higher Self questions here, and then later on record whatever insights/answers you receive. If you do this regularly with belief and expectation, you WILL receive the answers you need.
4. Inner Dialogue
Conduct a regular inner dialogue with your Higher Self. For the next 40 days, decide to keep in contact throughout the day.
Say to your Higher Self:
“I know you are there and I want to get to know you and pay attention to you. Please begin to speak to me and guide my life.”
Don’t worry if this dialogue is entirely one-way to begin with. Remember that you have been out of touch for decades.
It takes a while to clear the cobwebs! Persist with this inner dialogue as if talking to a friend – chatting, asking questions, sharing your hopes – and begin to listen for answers. They will come.
5. Life Lessons
Look upon life as a Mystery School. Believe that the whole of your life — events, situations and people — has been structured PRECISELY in order to teach you exactly what you need to know right now. Approach life as if the whole of creation is conspiring to do you good!
Whenever something happens in your life, for good or ill, ask yourself what the lesson is for you. Even unpleasant people/situations have been deliberately placed there as a challenge to help you grow.
As you begin to view life as a drama in which you are play the starring role, the role of the Higher Self will become increasingly evident in your life. Record your findings in your journal.
Expect your Higher Self to speak to you in dreams. Before going to sleep, do some stretching and bending to relax your body completely.
Ask your Higher Self a question and expect an answer. When you wake up, recall whatever you can of your dream and write it down in your journal.
If you are not used to remembering dreams, this will take time and persistence. However, with patience, you will begin to recall your dreams AND receive answers from your Higher Self.
Focus upon living more and more in the present, on the NOW. When you are eating, be aware that you are eating.
When you walk, know that you are walking. The only real moment is now – the past is gone forever and the future has yet to be.
Therefore, work to clear your mind of concerns, illusions and extrapolations. Clear the mental clutter from the mind and create space for the Higher Self to fill.
Patience Is The Catalyst To Progress!
Remember, you may have spent your entire life out of touch with Source. Therefore, it takes time to learn how to re-establish contact.
Anything worth doing takes time and practice. Be vigilant and practice these seven steps every day, and you will receive the answers you need.
Remember: The Higher Self WANTS to be in contact. In fact, to even speak of it as someone apart from you is contradictory. The Higher Self IS you! The real you. So get in touch with YOU!