The Influence of Nutrition on Mental Health

The health field is finally awakening to information regarding the link between diet and behavior.
 For the first two-thirds of the 20th century, medical students were taught that the mental condition called “depression” was a problem of psychological origin. While in a small number of cases this may be true, in most incidents, the cause is not psychological, it’s biochemical. The same holds true for many other problems related to mental health, such as, aggressive behavior, anger, irrational thinking, confusion, etc.. Instead of totally blaming poor old mom and dad for creating these psychoIogical conditions, health researchers are now looking at poor diet as a root cause. How can the brain function, if it doesn’t receive the nutrients it needs? The right nutrients are turned by the body into all the hundreds of amino acids and most of the neurotransmitters that our brains require. When these nutrients are not available, the brain is thrown out of biochemical balance and becomes dysfunctional.

Psychiatrists have been using certain drugs (chemicals) for years to alter the chemistry of the brain, such as, Mono-Amine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), Tricyclics, and Serotonin re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). None of these come without a long list of serious side effects. People using them may be stabilized, but they aren’t cured. Eventually, their lives are shortened, because of the damage that these drugs are doing to the human body. Prescription drugs are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, after heart attacks, cancer and strokes.

Depression can be improved by raising levels of certain neurotransmitters, including dopamine, nor epinephrine, epinephrine, tyramine, tryptamine, and 5-hydroxytryptamine, inhibiting the enzyme MAO, resulting in higher levels of these neurotransmitters. Higher levels result in mood elevation. However, this can be achieved with the use of specific amino acids, and other essential nutrients. This is now being offered by such an eminent medical doctor as Dr. Jonathan V. Wright at his Tahoma Clinic in Renton, Washington. His newsletter Nutrition & Healing is available at:

Dr. Wright was a contributor to Prevention Magazine in the 1970s. I have followed his career for the past 40 years. His current October 2011 newsletter deals with the subject of depression. I was pleased to see him cover this information; giving people information that presents a nutritional cure for this mental condition…not a drug fix.

The good doctor stated that depression was not caused by a patent medicine deficiency. Lorraine Day, M.D. has said the same thing in her videos and books. Both proclaim that getting the right nutrients will bring about healthy minds in healthy bodies. Abram Hoffer, M.D. was another doctor who researched B vitamins for half a century. He was truly the Father of Orthomolecular Nutrition. He advocated the use of high doses of niacin in the treatment of schizophrenia. I had the good fortune to meet him at a medical conference in San Francisco in 2000. He died in 2009 after a brief illness at the age of 92.

I also met a lady at this same conference by the name of Eva Edelman who had just written Natural Healing for Schizophrenia. Abram Hoffer wrote the forward for her book and I had him autograph a copy that I had just purchased from her. In 2009, I bought another very well researched book written by Eva Edelman – Natural Healing for Bipolar Disorder: A Compendium of Nutritional Approaches. Dr. Hoffer also wrote the forward to this second book of hers, too.

In 1961 I was handed some health books by my brother-in-law who was a top flight body builder. He had won the title Mr. Universe and later was Mr. America. He told me that I was listening to the wrong people and I needed to start learning. Some of the information I read made me realize that my doctor didn’t know what he was doing by giving my 5 year old son drugs for his hyperactivity – as his nutritional info was responsible for my son’s hyperactivity. It was an eye-opener.

I stopped the drugs that my son was on and changed his diet. I started reading labels and eliminated white sugar and white flour. I had been told that my son would not be able to function in school without these drugs, but he eventually settled down…and he graduated high school with honors as a physics major.

My interest in this subject of mental health accelerated in 1963, after I wound up being confined in a mental hospital – and treated with shock therapy and drugs…for malnutrition and stress. I wrote about this in my book Sharing from the Heart. Chapter Six: Mental or Malnourished. Leo F. Buscaglia. PhD gave me permission to quote a paragraph from his book Personhood: The Art of Being Fully Human at the beginning of Chapter Six. Dr. Buscaglia was the  Love Professor at USC. He wrote books about love.

It took years to bring back some memories, after going through shock treatment. I didn’t remember what pushed me over the edge in 1963, because of going through ECT…and in 1967 I had another episode There is a famous quote of George Santayana; “ Those who can not remember the past are condemned to repeat it. “ The psychiatrists took away my memory of what had occurred – so it happened again and again. In addition, I didn’t really know how to eat. The dietary information that I was following – was not valid. It was all about calories and little about eating the right foods.. Here it is 50 years later and only a few doctors have any training in nutrition. Most have no idea that the right foods can prevent most physical and mental illnesses.

In 1961 Adele Davis was the nutritional expert – and her advice contributed to the weight problem that propelled me into going on the radical diet that put me into a mental hospital. She advocated 125 grams of animal protein daily and this made me feel extremely lethargic…and my weight went up. Both my son and I had to have our tonsils out, after following her dietary information for 2 years.

In 1963 I went to Rancho La Puerta, a health resort in Tecate, Mexico. I went on a very restrictive diet for 2 weeks and continued on it for another 3-½ months at home, before I was hospitalized – and given traditional treatment. After being subjected to toxic drugs and shock, I went to a psychiatrist for years. I was as bored as the doctor – whose eyes were focused on his watch. He didn’t say much, but he always knew to the second, when the session was finished.

I had a major problem,. I didn’t want to be fat and had been on many radical diets, since I was 13. It took 16 years of starvation diets, before I was hospitalized for the first time; after sticking to a 600 calorie a day diet for 4 months; going from a size 14 down to a size 7. In addition, my marriage was stressful and when I told my husband that I wanted a divorce… he became unglued and violent… and his actions caused me to FLIP OUT.

I got into bed and refused to come out for three days. My husband finally talked me into getting dressed and took me to the hospital. The next thing I knew I was being given electric shock. Now I am the Mental Patient and my husband was the normal one. I went through a number of years – not remembering what had happened. It is interesting how a person gets labeled by the psychiatric field…I had never had any previous psychological problems before this event – and I did not accept being labeled, schizophrenic, Later on, it was changed to Bipolar, but it too was a misnomer. I do not have radical mood swings, but I am totally affected, when I don’t get the nutrients that my brain needs. I find it impossible to function, if I don’t eat right. I was malnourished, not schizophrenic or bipolar.

It took many years to learn how to eat right and feed my brain. It is a sad commentary that food manufacturers put profit before anything else. Human beings are being manipulated into buying foods which are destroying the human body and the brain. Massive amounts of advertising dollars are spent on influencing people to buy foods, which have no value. Our society is getting sicker and sicker. Where can people go in order to study nutrition, when the food industry is supporting the nutrition schools with grants?  The food industry provides the information that is being studied by nutritionists – and malnutrition is running rampant.

Drugs are not the answer; they are part of the problem. I know quite a bit about the effect of drugs on the human body. I was forced to take stelazine and thorazine, when I was first hospitalized…and for many years I was coerced into taking lithium. After a severe episode, where I became very dehydrated and terribly ill, I refused to take it any longer. Lithium has to be monitored very closely, because there is a very narrow window, between the point where it works and where it can become extremely toxic. I know how it made me feel…very lethargic. If I had known how to eat right – I would never had to have been hospitalized – and then I wouldn’t have had to take drugs. I knew drugs weren’t the answer, but it took years to learn which foods were designed for human consumption. Most nutrition books have been written by people who have studied traditional food-industry provided information – designed to promote the products that they are selling consumers.

I knew that there had to be real answers and in 1984, I turned my whole life over – to be of service. I asked the Creator to guide me and closed down my center on a paying basis – and started doing free consultations in order to learn about the biochemical uniqueness of every human being. I found that no two people were alike, even in the same family. The wrong fruit or the wrong vegetable could create a reaction. Not all fruits or all vegetables were perfect foods for everyone. I had been using a Cytotoxic list of 250+ foods…and It took hours of time to give individuals information. When people stayed with the information that I gave them, I got excellent feedback. They told me how good they felt…physically and mentally. A major problem I ran into – many people were so addicted to eating the wrong foods that they couldn’t give them up. Another critical problem – the organs in the human body have been broken down by eating the wrong foods – and people are unable to eat the foods, which our Maker has created for them,

After 23 years of health research and 17 years, doing free guided nutritional consultations, I was permitted to ask for a donation for my time. At this point I had 40 years of study, under my belt. Now it is over 50 years – and learning doesn’t stop. I read and experiment constantly.

Today, It doesn’t take as long to do a consultation, because I have eliminated many foods from this list, which were not beneficial. If people want to be well – they have to totally change their mindset and addiction to eating foods, which don’t belong in the human body. I have no desire to waste people’s time. Also, I have no desire to spend time with someone who is not serious about health. The majority of doctors prescribe drugs, because this is what they have been taught. People can’t get drugs, without a prescription, so they become repeat customers.  If doctors were true healers, they would have studied information that would truly benefit their patients and set them free from a system which isn‘t benefiting their patients or them; doctors have lower life expectancy rates than most people. . I mentioned several doctors at the beginning of this blog who are exceptions: Dr. Jonathan V. Wright, Dr. Lorraine Day and Dr. Abram Hoffer. There are others, I would recommend, such as Dr. Russell L. Blaylock, M.D.. I subscribe to his newsletter: The Blaylock Wellness Report. He is well versed in nutrition. He wrote a very informative book: “Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills.“. He also has written: “Health and Nutrition Secrets that can save your life.”

I may recommend books and doctors, but their information is not 100% valid. Their sources are not always reliable. Before I buy a book, I ask the Creator to tell me how valid the book is. In many cases health books are lucky to be 20% valid. Did you ever think about the source of the information? Who paid for the studies?

If I had not been guided, I would not know the information that I received about different fruits and vegetables. Much of the information in my book came from the guided consultations that I did.   As I have written previously, most nutritional information is coming from food manufacturers who are giving grants to the universities to teach their nutrition information to future nutritionists.  The results have been deadly.

My next blog will cover more information coming in from sources world-wide who are more aware than most doctors of the importance of nutrition in treating mental health. If someone takes the newspaper, one reads about radical insanity on a daily basis. It wasn’t like this sixty years ago. I think that it would be possible to effect real change, if the right nutritional information was available. It is up to each and every one of us to set this as a goal…so spread the word.

Healthfully Yours,

Barbara Charis

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *