Optimal Nourishment for Better Mental Health

At the core of my philosophy of how to improve mental health is through deep nourishment.  Many times when we are feeling depressed, anxious, or are going through extreme states of panic, mania and psychosis, the individual has experienced some underlying trauma.  That trauma can come in the form of emotional trauma such as having been bullied or suffering through a bad relationship, through sexual trauma such as an assault, or through physical trauma such as a car accident or long term illness.   There is also likely a component of stress and poor habits such as eating an unhealthy diet, not getting enough sleep or addiction to substances.

That trauma and stress lead to worsening mood and destabilization of the body’s inherent ability to stay strong, happy and calm.  Though talk therapy can be useful for uncovering and processing that trauma, its not always possible to heal without addressing the underlying physical level of depletion and nervous system damage that is caused by trauma.  That is why it is essential to focus on the most important activity of the day outside of sleep-  what you eat.

The food you eat is essentially the fuel you use for staying strong and healthy.  Optimal, nutrient dense food will not only help strengthen the body, it will help you to stay resilient in the face of stress and will repair the damage done by trauma.  There are many different views about the best type of diet whether it be vegan, vegetarian, Primal, Paleo, anti-inflammatory, etc.  Here’s a link to my thoughts on nutrition.  My “rules” are pretty simple.  Eat a whole foods diet filled with plant material with little to no processed foods.  If that means more meat and less whole grains- great.  If that means more whole grains and no meat- great.  Whatever works for you.  With each plate of food, try to fill up half the plate with veggies.  Those plants will heal you.

So, my favorite way of optimally nourishing the body and healing from trauma is to make a bone broth soup with lots of herbs as a base.  This is one of my favorite ways of taking in herbs as I believe the body absorbs the nutrition really well in this way, and is preferable to taking vitamin pills or herbal capsules.  So here is a simple soup that you can make that will take about 15 minutes to prepare and an hour to cook.

Bone Broth Soup



Bone broth soup is simply one of the most powerful ways to heal the body after it has experienced trauma.  The soup I like to make includes a number of herbs as well as the bone broth itself.  Here is a recipe.

2 quarts bone broth-  To make this, take leftover chicken or beef bones (grass fed/organic feed raised animals) and place in a pot and fill to the top with filtered water.  Add a 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.   Then let the brew boil and then simmer for 24 hours.  That’s your stock to start this soup.  Alternatively, if you are in a pinch, purchase some organic stock from your local grocer. To the 2 quarts of bone broth add





       3 cups chopped leafy greens.  I like chard, kale or collards.










      10 strips of astragalus (amazing Chinese herb that strengthens the immune and    nervous systems)








                  2 cups of shitaki mushrooms







                2 cups of chopped sweet potato










                 Then sautee up a handful of garlic and ginger.






                 Add them to the pot.






Add salt to taste, simmer for an hour and a delicious and incredibly healing soup will be ready to eat.  If you want, add cut up chicken and other veggies.  A soup like this taken a couple times a week will go a long way to improving mental health and decreasing emotional distress symptoms that are often related to trauma.


P1060126 - Version 2This article is written by Jon Keyes.  Jon is a licensed professional counselor and herbalist who lives in Portland Oregon.  Please like us on Facebook to Screen Shot 2013-06-29 at 3.41.30 PMreceive more articles like these.

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