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Ready To Utilize Food As Medicine? Shop These Foods For Good Mental Health

Written by: Dr. Stephanie Bathurst, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Dr. Stephanie Bathurst

Before we had pharmacies and hospitals, we had food. Food was our medicine, and for holistic practitioners who integrate holistic approaches to treating mental health disorders today, it still is.

cheerful woman holding a coconut

Know your numbers

The range you see in blood work is created using the average lab consensus by the general population or by what your body needs to function. Those numbers are not created based on what your body needs to run optimally or with minimal symptoms or side effects. Being on the lower end of a lab range may not flag you as deficient in their system, but your body and mind can still be suffering from significant symptoms due to those low levels.

Nutritional deficiencies and mental health

ADHD is strongly correlated to deficiencies in Iron, Vitamin D, Omega 3 + 6, Magnesium, and Zinc.

Anxiety can develop from the following nutritional issues: Magnesium and Zinc deficiency, as well as having low levels of Choline and Selenium, Iron, or Vitamin D. Vitamin B is a vast mood stabilizer that is known to precipitate anxiety and depression when levels are low. B Vitamins help to regulate the nervous and circulatory systems.

Depression has been shown to be linked in studies to subjects with Vitamin B12 and B6 deficiency who were 2 times as likely to be severely depressed. Low Vitamin C, Selenium, and Iron levels are also associated with depression. Thiamine, or B1, is critical for general nervous system functioning. B1 deficiencies are often a catalyst for postpartum depression and can be supplemented as a prophylaxis for pregnant women. Coq10 can be taken to combat depression-based fatigue. As it pertains to Bipolar Disorder, a cross-sectional study from NIH identified that Bipolar Disorder is linked to deficiencies in Omega 3s, Vitamin B, Choline, and L-Tryptophan. Bipolar Disorder is also linked to excessive amounts of metal in the body, which requires extraction from the cells for our body to be able to excrete the toxins. Antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress in the body help to naturally extract metals and toxins and flush them out of the system, where as they would otherwise remain in our cells and build up over time.

5 Top recommendations

As an Integrative Medicine Specialist for Mental Health, my most common recommendations are:

  1. Omega 3 & 6 complex

  2. Vitamin D

  3. Methylated B-complex

  4. Probiotic for microbiome support

  5. An amino acid blend

Prioritizing gut health ensures that your gut lining is not permeable and that everything is in balance with the "bugs" in your gut to be able to process and absorb what you put in. Despite eating the highest quality food or supplements, if your microbiome is imbalanced, your body may be unable to absorb the nutrients you provide and still manifest with deficiency symptoms. Pre and probiotic sources come from fermented foods like kombucha, kimchee, kefir, yogurt, good-quality fermented vegetables like pickles or jalapeños, sauerkraut, and fiber are all excellent sources of food that fuel our good gut bugs! A study in Nutrition Research found that intermittent fasting decreases inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation has been linked to many brain disorders, including depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s Disease. Eating habits like intermittent fasting enables your body to direct energy away from the metabolism of food toward other necessary processes in the body, such as detoxification, hormone replenishment, and cellular regeneration.

Healing foods for a struggling mind

Supplements are not yet regulated by the FDA, and not all dosages are safe or helpful. If you aren’t sure or don’t have the time to thoroughly research your food or supplement sources, please reach out to a trusted naturopathic doctor or integrative medicine specialist for mental health who will have those sources known and be able to personalize a treatment plan for your specific composition. The nutrients needed to stabilize mental health can often be found at your local grocery store or market.

Amending specific disorders

If you have Bipolar Disorder, try eating:

  • Pomegranate, tomatoes, potatoes, citrus fruit, leafy greens, blueberries, chaga mushrooms, and chia seeds

If you have Brain fog, try eating:

  • Beets or turmeric if the catalyst of the brain fog is inflammation.

If you have Anxiety, try eating:

  • Vinegar, bone broths, organic/high-quality meats, oatmeal, celery, fermented foods.

If you have Attention Deficit Disorder, try eating:

  • Heavy protein & fat diet, heavy dose krill oil (krill oil has a longer shelf-life than fish oil with the same benefits)

If you have Postpartum or Major Depression, try eating:

  • Oysters, mussels, clams, lean organ meats, leafy greens, dairy, peppers, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts.

Resolving nutrient deficiencies

Iron: try eating dehydrated beef liver capsules, spirulina and algae, dark chocolate, spinach, sardines, pistachios, and raisins.

Magnesium: try eating spinach, chard, pumpkin seeds, almonds, avocado, legumes, dark chocolate, and bananas. 70% of what we put on our skin is absorbed transdermally through the skin using topical creams or Epsom salt baths.

Zinc: try eating oysters, grass-fed organic beef, cashews, mushrooms, and spinach. Vitamin B: try eating egg yolk, wheatgerm, codfish, green leafy vegetables, and beans. Vitamin D: try eating oily fish, sun-dried or “UVB-irradiated” mushrooms, and milk.

Selenium: try eating Brazil nuts.

Avoid these 3 things

We want to minimize anything that creates inflammation in your body or disrupts your sleep. These are some of the most prominent “silent killers” of mental health.

  1. Avoid inflammation-causing unnatural sugars like granulated white sugar and refined grains.

  2. Alcohol should be cautiously consumed in moderation because of how disruptive this can be for reaching deeper sleep states. Heavy alcohol consumption creates dysbiosis in the gut microbiome, creating inflammation.

  3. Caffeine should be limited. Sleep is how our bodies regenerate, detoxify, and process information.

At current, approximately 1 in 4 adult Americans have been diagnosed with at least one mental health disorder. Projections of these numbers in the general population climb each year for youth and adults. It’s critical that we begin to integrate preventative treatment practices into daily life to reduce the prevalence of this endemic. The simplest, safest, and most affordable way to do this across all demographics and regions in the US is through Food as Medicine.


In addition to 1-1 client sessions, Dr. Bathurst offers 90-day Relationship Coaching Programs and in-person Hawaiian Couples Retreats.

What energy type do YOU exchange in romantic relationships? Take your free quiz or share with your friends for some fun!

A note of thanks to line editor Kellie Supplee

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Dr. Stephanie Bathurst Brainz Magazine

Dr. Stephanie Bathurst, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dr. Stephanie Bathurst is an expert Clinical Sexologist, Relationship Therapist, and Holistic Healer who applies evidence-based techniques that blend holistic and traditional therapies. As a provider, she aims to energize relationships, unblock barriers in the 8 forms of intimacy, and treat the whole system for clients to see long-lasting effects. Acknowledging the heaviness in our world, Dr. Bathurst strives to lead unhappy partners toward better sex, effective communication, and release of resentment so that together we can create a more loving, more stable connection. With her primary office in Oahu, HI, Dr. Bathurst offers coaching to clients across the globe, couples retreats, and hybrid relationship programs for immersive healing. Dr. Bathurst is the CEO of Bathurst Family Therapy, LLC., and has won numerous awards of excellence in her fields. Her integration of degrees in counseling and sexology combined with certifications as an Integrative Medicine Specialist for Mental Health and Pelvic Floor PFilates instructor makes Dr. Bathurst a truly unparalleled provider.

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