In the wake of recent tragedies such as Robin Williams completing suicide and the controversial shooting of Michelle Cusseaux, we are once again seeing Mental Health in the media spotlight.
Mental health…mental health… just what is Mental Health? Doesn’t it seem more common we hear it referred to as Mental Illnes? It is rare to hear a story involving Mental Health that doesn’t involve addressing the illness.
We can liken this to our Healthcare System… More of a Sickcare System if we are honest with ourselves.
You may wish to debate this [I hope you do! That’s what the comment section is for!].
Between Big Pharma [aka pharmaceutical companies], the Food Industry, and that pesky, always-present fact that sitting down is more comfortable that running up a hill…there is a strong case for this Sickcare paradigm.
Back to Mental Health – wait did we ever really leave it?
Interesting notion …
By standards set forth by the World Health Organization [WHO] Mental Health is defined as:
“the state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community”
Pretty powerful language there.
For some of us, Mental Health is always in the spotlight – be that because of our jobs, our families, or perhaps even staring back at us in the mirror.
In light of the above-mentioned definition, we should all be so lucky to have Mental Health staring back at us so confidently.
Then there is the “illness”…
The departure from the norm…
Which when you are referring to Mental Health, this “departure” can be catastrophic as we have seen time and time again on the news, in our cities, and even in our homes.
One of the many challenges when it comes to “treating” Mental “illness” is that, unlike medical diseases or disorders, there is no completely objective test that a nurse or doctor can conduct to determine where you fall on your own personal continuum of “realizing your own potential”, as the WHO definition refers to.
No blood test
No fecal smear
…errr what? Okay ignore that last one. But trust me, this exists and be glad you don’t need one. Not yet anyways.
Based on what you know – does it seem odd that pharmaceutical medications are globally made, tested on objective factors, branded, mass-marketed, [and up-sold, always up-sold], all for a pathology of a subjective nature?
Now, before you start screaming, “But Miss Fit! The brain chemicals! It’s all about the brain chemicals!! Those medications, they help alter the brain chemicals so people feel different!”
Yes. I won’t argue that.
But there are no brain chemicals currently marketed towards with pharmaceuticals that cannot also be altered by physical activity and/or foods and beverages you put in your body. None.
And, yes, sex counts as physical activity and YES it alters your brain chemicals.
Now, I won’t be focusing on sex to combat Mental Health pathology in THIS particular article, but I certainly welcome your feedback on the topic; and as if it even HAS to be said, the side effects are much, much more accommodating than anything Big Pharma has.
Are you uncomfortable yet?
Yikes, ok back to center.
Still an “F” word, but more G-rated.
Folate is one of many water-soluble B-vitamins.
Quick, mini crash course:
Water-soluble meaning that it is absorbed in water – as opposed to fat. Water soluble vitamins are absorbed through the cell walls in the liquid that surrounds them. Fat soluble vitamins are absorbed with fat and include Vitamins A, D, E, and K. Foods that contain fat-soluble vitamins are actually better absorbed when cooked with oils such as olive or coconut. For instance, to increase absorption rates when eating a sweet potato/yam – a root vegetable notoriously high in Vitamin A – drizzle a little oil on it before enjoying.
So, Folate, also known as B9 or Folic Acid.
If you have ever been pregnant, known someone who was pregnant, or volunteered for the March of Dimes, you no doubt heard about the importance of Folic Acid for fetal development. Specifically – Central Nervous System [CNS] development, which – shocker – includes the brain.
Just like eating yesterday doesn’t sustain you ‘til next week, getting enough Folate in the womb doesn’t mean you are good-to-go as an adult.
In fact, Folate deficiency is one of the leading contributors to brain dysfunction – dysfunction that often meets criteria for one of those infamous diagnostic codes in the DSM-IV-TR, the bible of psychiatrists.
According to Joanne Berger-Sweeney, a neuroscientist at Tufts University, “The nervous system needs Folate to carry out a number of absolutely fundamental [emphasis mine] metabolic processes”.
And why does it need it exactly?
It’s because one of Folate’s main jobs is to play Maestro to the grand orchestra of your DNA, essentially “tagging” small molecules known as methyl groups to genes which ultimately regulate amino acid production, and help make sure your Ear is an Ear, your Lungs are Lungs and your Hippocampus is, well, a Hippocampus [just to name a few].
Additionally, Folate is a strong anti-oxidant. By preventing cells oxidation and eliminating free radicals in the system, Folate not only orchestrates DNA, but repairs damaged DNA and helps prevent future genetic mutations that are linked to a wide variety of medical and psychological disturbances.
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Remember, your DNA is the blue print for who you are, so if there is structural damage, especially to the blueprint for the brain, complications like Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Depressions, and Schizophrenia are understandably common.
At a whopping$3.77 for a 9 month supply, it is really very difficult to make a case for not giving this Vitamin a shot before forking over hundreds of dollars for a Big Pharma prescription that not only depletes your bank account [or that of our tax payers if you currently have subsidized insurance] but also sends your sex drive [and performance] into a nose dive while inching your weight and waistline ever up..up..up..
I don’t know about your but if I wasn’t feeling slightly “away from my potential” before, having no money, no libido, and needing bigger pants is certainly a recipe for testing my Mental Health to the breaking point… which means I will need an increase in my meds… which means… more broke, less sex, and still bigger pants…
There is a lot of evidence out there supporting that medication is truly life-saving in certain circumstances – but what have you got to lose trying something both financially and theoretically sustainable first?
Not a fan of swallowing pills, prescribed or otherwise?
Here is a list of foods that are chock full of Folate.
- Dark, leafy greens – think spinach, kale, turnip and collard greens
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- Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli – aka “cruciferous vegetable”; now I know what you are thinking- how can I use “cruciferous” at my next cocktail party
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- Asparagus – yes that vegetable that makes your pee smell funny; don’t be alarmed. Unless your pee smelled weird before. Then you should probably stop having sex and go see a Dr.
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- Beans – all kinds! Garbanzo, Pinto, Black, Navy, Red, oh shit … I never knew beans were racist? There are White beans somewhere, right? Got to be politically correct and all that.
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- Citrus fruits – especially oranges, papayas, cantaloups
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- Bananas – someone has something clever to say here I’m sure
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A few others with moderate amounts of Folate and chock full of other brain healthy vitamins and minerals:
And, don’t forget to leave questions/comments below and contact direct with any other feedback or issues firstname.lastname@example.org
Until Next Time,