How food, sleep can help improve mental health


Posted at Nov 28 2019 01:15 PM

MANILA – Eating habits and sleep patterns, among other daily habits, can help improve one’s mental health, according to local experts. 

For Philippine- and US-registered dietician-nutritionist Cheshire Que, diet, nutrition, exercise, and mental illness are all connected, saying “food fuels the brain for it to function optimally.”

“Poor nutrition causes nutrient deficiencies that affect hormonal imbalance and many other factors that influence mood, thought process, and other functions of the brain,” Que said during the recent mental health awareness event organized by Jeunesse Anion.

The dietician-nutritionist went on to advise the public to “remove food triggers” such as gluten and dairy, and eat more fresh produce. 

“When a person is diagnosed with a mental condition, one of the first steps to bring back the balance in the body is by applying these 3 Rs of gut-healing. Remove triggers in the form of gluten, dairy, refined sugar, and soy; repair with fresh produce, functional foods, and supplementations; and reinoculate probiotics and feed the gut with prebiotics such as honey,” Que said. 

Citing his observation of students, Victory Greenhills campus missionary and pastor Dave Estrera noted how “social media can have adverse effects on the way we view ourselves. Because there’s always the temptation to compare.”

“Secondly, it affects the way we socialize. We have the option to project ourselves the way we want to be seen – being connected yet alone is not helpful in someone going through a hard time,” he said. 

Estrera also emphasized the importance of allowing the mind and body to get enough rest.

“In my survey among students, 80% admitted they have slept less than five hours. Now that we have the option to look at something that interests us, our body is restricted to recharge and recover,” he explained. 

Some 3.5 million Filipinos, or nearly 4 percent of the population, have mental health conditions, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in January.

Data from the World Health Organization showed that 800,000 people die due to suicide each year, making it the second leading cause of death in 15 to 29-year-olds.
Among those who lost someone to depression is the Suntay family. Renzo, the eldest son among a brood of five, took his own life in 2018. 

The experience was a turning point for the family, leading them to put up YOLO by Renzo Suntay, a non-profit organization that aims to be the voice for those who are suffering from depression, anxiety, and other conditions. 

“My role as a founder is to relentlessly share my story and remind these people that they’re not alone in their struggles and that there’s real, tangible hope and healing,” said mom-entrepreneur Sheila Suntay.

Editor's note:

A group in the Philippines is dedicated to addressing those who have suicidal tendencies.

The crisis hotlines of the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation aim to make these individuals feel that someone is ready to listen to them.

These are their hotline numbers:

Information and Crisis Intervention Center
(02) 804-HOPE (4673)
(0917) 558-HOPE (4673) or (02) 211-4550
(0917) 852-HOPE (4673) or (02) 964-6876
(0917) 842-HOPE (4673) or (02) 964-4084

In Touch Crisis Lines:
(0917) 572-HOPE or (02) 211-1305
(02) 893-7606 (24/7)
(02) 893-7603 (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
(0917) 800-1123 or (02) 506-7314
(0922) 893-8944 or (02) 346-8776