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Healthy Mind - Eating Well
Do you eat well? … Eating well is the basic principle of orthomolecular dieting and nutrition.  Here we discuss good eating principles that can help you achieve optimal mental and physical health.

MindCheck provides weekly in-depth information on the orthomolecular approach to coping with mood, behavior and psychotic disorders.  This series by Dr. Ray Pataracchia N.D. is endorsed by the  Mindful Network - ‘A Better Future for Children’s Mental Health’.

The Healthy Mind Orthomolecular Diet

What is an Orthomolecular Diet

 ‘Ortho’ means to ‘straighten’, ‘right’ or ‘correct’. 

In the context of diet, the term ‘orthomolecular’ implies that achieving health can be accomplished by eating the ‘right’ balance of food-based nutrients.

The human body is composed of cells, tissues, and organs that rely on having certain nutrients which include elements (minerals) and like molecules (vitamins, antioxidants, etcetera) in optimal proportions.  Body systems working in balance are said to be in homeostasis.

Orthomolecular living involves getting the ‘right’ nutrients; nutrients that the body needs and demands in order to function optimally.

When nutrient balance is not achievable by dietary change alone, then supplementation has a key role.  Finding the right supplement proportions to correct body systems is the art of orthomolecular targeted therapy.  Here there are 15 basic syndromes that need to be considered for optimal health, for kids and adults.  A review of a checklist for mental health conditions in the context of nutrient-based medicine may be helpful if you are considering nutrient treatment.

Basic Diet Principles

Eating well involves respect for basic body needs and functions.  The human body has regular rhythms that have been described in Oriental Medicine and other cultures.  Many dietary philosophies involve common sense and a moderation of eating habits.  When incorporated into your lifestyle, a comprehensive variety of orthomolecular recipes can go a long way to keep your body and mind healthy.

The most basic diet principles include:

Eating 3 meals a day

Eating a good solid breakfast

Not overeating

Not eating junk food

Not eating foods that make you sick

Drinking plenty of water

Eating 3 meals a day

By eating three meals a day you provide water soluble nutrients in a divided fashion throughout the whole day.   Water soluble nutrients such as B12 which is high in animal meat (a high quality protein source) is a water soluble vitamin which needs to be provided throughout the day; B12 is essential in optimal mental health for a basic process (methylation) which helps us make neurotransmitters on demand.

Eating a good solid breakfast

In Oriental medicine and in the longevity diet you will see that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Here the body is ready to receive nutrients optimally.

Not overeating

Overeating is not necessary and potentially harmful.  It is important to eat the right foods in moderate proportions.

Not eating foods that make you sick

Often people have a notion that a food that they are eating is causing some disturbance but they can’t pinpoint anything immediate that is overtly harmful.  For example, I often have clients report digestive complaints such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, heartburn, or abdominal pain after eating a specific food.  Certain foods can cause specific reactions.  For example, we often see congestion, mucous build-up, flatulence, and headaches in those with a dairy intolerance; another example is the Nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant) which cause joint pain.  Gluten has global effects.  It is important to know that any food item can affect your mental state either directly or indirectly.

Not eating junk food

Junk food is often high in carbohydrates which provide immediate fuel that does not last.  The brain is a highly demanding organ when it comes to nutrients so if you fill up on junk food you do not have the fuel to sustain optimal brain cell metabolism.  You should avoid junk food.

“An apple a day” goes a long way and fruit is a good substitute for junk food when eaten in moderation away from meals.

Drinking plenty of water

Water is a nutrient with its own benefits.  Water is needed for basic body reactions, for detoxifying, and for maintaining optimal digestive function.  Adults need 8 glasses of water a day and children need up to 4 glasses a day.  It is important to drink pure water that is unsweetened; liquids that are sweetened and coffee do not count as water sources. You may need to drink more during the summer especially when exercising and doing heavy work.  Avoid alcohol and soft drinks.