Do you think that nutrition matters when it comes to good mental health? I certainly do.
As a Nutritionist and Naturopath in clinical practice for more than seven years now, there is no doubt in my mind that poor diet leads to poor health outcomes, as it causes nutritional deficiencies impacting on all body systems, including our moods, brain function and our mental health overall.
In short, we need good nutrition for good mental health!
Hence I’m excited to see that nutritional psychiatry is a growing discipline that focuses on the use of food and supplements to provide essential nutrients as part of an integrated treatment for mental health disorders.
Natural medicine practitioners have always acknowledged the key role of nutrition in recovering from any illness and regaining health.
Unfortunately, many natural approaches to alleviating and dealing with mental disorders are still facing strong opposition from the mainstream medicine that uses drugs and psychotherapy as their main tools to manage symptoms, despite a plethora of evidence that nutrition matters!
Scientists such as Julia Rucklidge (featured in the video below) have plenty of scientific evidence to show the dramatic, positive effects of using nutrition, preferably as the first step in treatment by providing essential nutrients for brain health, among others – good nutrition for good mental health indeed.
More and more scientific evidence suggests that there should be a bigger role for nutritional medicine applications in mental health also within conventional medicine, and both GPs and psychiatrists need to be more aware of the connection between food, inflammation and mental health.
Unfortunately for many patients, the concept of nutrition as an effective treatment or an aid to recovery is still often dismissed by the orthodox medicine, likely out of lack of knowledge, as medical university studies traditionally excluded nutrition and its association with disease.
Thus very few doctors have a deeper understanding of the importance of nutrition in treatment and recovery.
Yet many of them dismiss nutrition out of hand and even ridicule their patients for taking supplements or following certain diets such as Paleo, FODMAP or Mediterranean, to name a few.
It is now well-known that many mental health conditions are caused by brain inflammation which ultimately can lead to the death of the brain cells. This inflammatory process actually often starts somewhere else – in the gut, when eating nutrient-poor and processed foods results in a lack of key nutrients.
These include vitamins and minerals, probiotics, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, that are all essential for the optimum functioning of our bodies.
The top three nutritional deficiencies connected to poor mental health I see regularly in practice are;
- Inadequate B-vitamins
- Lack of omega-3 fats
All three are easy remedied by adjusting nutrition and/or supplementing for a period of time, and then adopting improved eating habits to maintain good nutrition and health status.
The results of addressing these simple deficiencies are often dramatic and life changing!
Fortunately, times are changing as the evidence mounts up for nutrition approaches to be taken seriously by the medica