Many of you will know that this week (15 June) has been “Men’s’ Health Week” where men’s’ health is highlighted. A few topics come up that might be of more concern to men e.g. Heart Disease (by no means a problem just for men), prostate issues and the plain old fact that men really don’t like going to the doctor at all. The silent killer both in terms of killing the joy in men’s lives and actually killing men is depression— A staggering 12 men commit suicide in the UK a Week. Apparently 3/4 of people who are depressed are women but 3/4 of those who commit suicide are men. It is thought that men tend to act out their depression more that women – often men still feel the burden of responsibility of protecting the family is weighing on their shoulders alone, even if the partner is working and providing too. Men really do need to be keeping sane.
Ruby Wax has noted : “We are not equipped for this century, it’s too hard, too fast, and too full of fear; we just don’t have the bandwidth. Our brains can’t take so much information in a world where we’re bombarded by bad news and force-fed information. You open a newspaper, everyone’s dead. We’re only supposed to know what our neighbour is up to; if the woman next door to you is having sex with the man next door to her we need to know; but four doors down it’s none of our business.”
The foundation for finding sanity is to start eating in a way that at least gives you a chance to be sane. Many foods we eat now such as cola drinks, junk food are chemical cocktails, they can’t give our brains a chance to be ‘normal’. It’s actually a wonder that anybody is operating at any kind of normal level. We are not giving our minds/bodies any of the fuel that might get a sane result.
1. 60 percent of the brain is fat – Omega-3 essential fats (clue in the title) are essential to human health and in particular brain health. We cannot make this fat in our bodies so it has to be taken in through the diet. The brain needs fat to work efficiently. The brain is a gobbling monster when it comes to utilising the metabolic energy of the body – it uses from 20% – 30%. Fats help increase the production of key brain chemicals that help the brain function. In studies this important fat has been shown to help those with depression. To your dose of Omega-3 eat good organic salmon and other oily fish like sardines.
Other fats help too – Monounsaturated fats, like avocado, help with healthy blood flow to the brain, olive oil helps improve memory (according to some studies) and coconut oil (medium chain triglycerides), helps support fat loss, builds lean muscle tissue and is thought to regenerate and heal nerve function.
2. Remember your B’s – B vitamins are great for brain health – particularly B5 which is good for stress. There has been lots of work (notably by Abraham Hoffer) using vitamin therapy with vitamin B3. Food Sources of B Vitamins are numerous but include (amongst others are) generally in whole grains, specifically B5 – eggs, fresh veg, kidney, legumes, mushrooms, nuts, pork, saltwater fish and specifically B3 – Beef liver, broccoli, carrots, cheese, egg, fish, proper milk, pork, potatoes and whole wheat products.
3. Zinc – Another vital nutrient in mental health is Zinc – even in the 1990’s the average intake of zinc through the diet was 7.5mg although it is thought on average the optimal dose might be 15mg. With more demands on our systems (stress etc) our need is probably greater today! Food Sources of Zinc (amongst others are) brewers’ yeast, egg yolks, fish, kelp, lamb, legumes, meats, mushrooms, pecans, oysters (famously!), poultry, sardines, seafood, sunflower seeds, and whole grains.
4. Remember that the body and mind are connected – Tension in the muscles makes the body think it is stressed and then in turn stresses the mind (and of course stressful thoughts increase the tension in the body). Many are turning to Mindfulness (focusing the mind in the present on purpose) – You can do this easily by just walking along, trying to listen to the sounds around you, feeling your feet on the ground, rather than being in your head and planning the next meeting, and the disaster that might never happen – As Mark Twain put it: “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”