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Diet & Mental Health

Physical and mental health are not unrelated. One of the easiest things you can do to improve both is to have a healthy diet.

When my mom was alive, I remember her watching The Jack La Lanne Show. Jack La Lanne was a diet and exercise legend. That show was the longest running American TV show in history (1951-1985). Jack La Lanne, born in 1914, lived until the age of 96! "I can't die," La Lanne would say. "It would ruin my image."

When asked to provide dietary advice in one sentence, he said this: "Don't eat man made foods."

By eating healthy, you will avoid a multitude of medical problems. You will also get sick much less often. At least, that has been my experience.

Since health problems are rampant today—including childhood obesity and childhood diabetes—I decided to tell you what I know.

I researched this article carefully. However, I have no medical credentials. Discuss your individual concerns with your doctor.

There are plenty of "man made" foods to avoid. The more of them you eliminate, the better.

Here are some foods to eliminate or minimize.

  • Anything made with with white flour.
  • Anything containing artificial ingredients.
  • White rice.
  • Chips, crackers, cake, cookies and candy.
  • Canned foods. Canned foods contain chemical liners on the inside of the can. These chemicals—whose safety is questionable—leach into the food. I avoid canned foods as much as possible.
  • Deep-fried foods (Doughnuts, french fries etc.).
  • Anything containing trans fats. Read food labels: The word(s) "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" means that the item contains trans fats. Items commonly including trans fats include vegetable shortening, some margarines, crackers, snack foods etc. Trans fats should be avoided entirely.
  • Fish with high levels of mercury or other contaminants.
  • Meats cured with nitrates or nitrites (Ham, bacon, sausage, hot dogs etc.).
  • Soft drinks, energy drinks etc.
  • Ice cream.
  • Heavily processed foods (e.g. Packaged mashed potatoes).
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Fresh produce which contains high levels of residual pesticides.
  • Jello. Eating jello with artificial colors and flavors makes me tired and prone to getting sick no matter what else I do right.

Here are some healthy foods:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Frozen fruits and vegetables.
  • Whole grains (Examples: Quinoa, Amaranth.).
  • Seeds (Examples: Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds).
  • Beans.
  • Nuts.
  • Chia seeds.These are very healthy. Chia seeds have a neutral taste and can be added to just about anything.

The more healthy foods you eat, the better. Also, the greater the variety of healthy foods you eat, the better.

Some additional dietary tips follow.

Learn how to make smoothies and/or sorbets. Banana sorbet is my favorite. I cut up bananas, put them in a plastic storage bag, add some lemon juice, suck the air out with a straw, and then put this in the freezer. The lemon juice adds flavor and preserves the bananas. Then, when I want some sorbet, I take the frozen bananas out of the freezer, add some almond milk and blend it in my Vitamix blender. Usually, I also add frozen strawberries or cherries and pitted dates. It comes out perfectly every time.

Be sure to eat a variety of vegetables, including cooked and raw vegetables. Organic vegetables are preferred.

For cooked vegetables, frozen vegetables are a quick and easy choice.

For raw vegetables, I usually have a salad every day. I include such things as lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and avocados. I use sunflower seeds, in place of salad dressing, since too much oil and salt is unhealthy. This has improved my health.

Look for recipes that are easy to make as well as healthy. For example, I often make quinoa or steel-cut oatmeal for breakfast. Right before serving, I add chia seeds, walnuts, frozen blueberries and frozen cherries. The result is a delicious and healthy combination of hot cereal and cold fruit.

Another easy recipe is the combination of beans and corn. You can season this with salt, pepper and cumin. And you can top it with salsa, if desired.

I make a habit of eating onion or garlic every day, even if I have to cut it up and eat it raw. Onion and garlic are very healthy and should be a part of everyone's diet.

Avoid using a lot of salt in your diet. Too much salt has been linked to heart disease and a variety of other health problems.

Avoid drinking fruit juice, especially when the fruit juice contains added sugar or sugar substitutes. Too much sugar in your diet can lead to diabetes. Also, drinking plenty of water is necessary for good health.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil can be used in place of butter, cheese and less healthy oils. While it is better, this is not a health food and you shouldn't use too much of it.

A plant-based diet is much healthier than one based on meat, fish, dairy and eggs. I avoid these things for the most part. A vegan diet is much healthier.

If you do eat a strictly vegan diet, however, there are nutritional deficiencies that can occur that can be damaging to your health. Supplements and/or fortified foods are essential. Talk with your doctor.

Pay careful attention to the fat content of your diet! Excessive fat—especially excessive saturated fat—can lead to heart disease. Even if your diet is otherwise healthy.

Intact grains are healthier than processed whole grains because they have a lower glycemic load. Thus, oak groats or steel-cut oatmeal is healthier than regular oatmeal.

Try sprouting: All you need is a sprouting jar and a sprouting mix. Both are inexpensive and can be ordered at Amazon. You can do this no matter where you live.

Women who are pregnant or nursing should be particularly careful about anything they put into their bodies. I'd avoid alcohol, fish containing high levels of mercury and unnecessary medications. Also, nutritional deficiencies at this time can be a disaster. And there are special nutritional requirements at this time. Always talk to your doctor right away if you think you may be pregnant or plan to become pregnant. This should be a medical doctor, not a naturopath, chiropractor, "nutritionist" etc.

Plant fruit trees: Fruit picked fresh is more nutritious. You can also avoid ingestion of pesticides. Do your homework before buying trees—otherwise you are wasting your money. Find out what will grow well in your area.

When buying non-organic produce, look for items that contain low levels of residual pesticides. Also, try to buy produce that is in season. These items are often on sale.

Buying organic is usually better than conventional. One example: I find I get sick less often when I eat organic oatmeal.

Plant a garden. This can be a family project. It will do wonders for your family's health. Instructional Videos on gardening are available on You Tube.

Finally, how can you change your eating habits? That's simple: Stop bringing junk food home. If it's not there, you can't eat it. In time, you will lose much of your taste for junk foods. They will just seem—well—unhealthy.

Notes: 1) I recommend that you watch Dr. Michael Greger's excellent video entitled: Food as Medicine: Preventing and Treating the Most Common Diseases with Diet. 2) I also highly recommend Dr. Michael Greger's website and his You Tube channel. These have excellent information on a variety of health and diet topics. 3) I also recommend the website. However, I do not endorse the supplements they sell to finance the site.

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