How Nutritional Psychiatry Can Help Address Mental Health Conditions

Are we underestimating the power of food?

Healthy diet and mental health
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Nutritional psychiatry has previously been seen as complementary and supplementary to official medical action, but it is finally making its way into the mainstream. It’s known that certain nutrient deficiencies such as magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids and probiotics are linked with the onset of mental health problems, and these have previously been treated solely with the use of antidepressants. As the cost of these medications mount up however, it’s starting to look like turning to nutrition could be the future of mental health treatment.

Nutrient deficiencies 

Most notably it is essential vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids that are often deficient in the general population of developed countries; and are exceptionally deficient in patients suffering from mental disorders. Supplements that contain amino acids also reduce symptoms, because they are converted to neurotransmitters that alleviate depression and other mental disorders.

Studies have shown that daily supplements of vital nutrients often effectively reduce patients’ symptoms, meaning that this form of nutritional supplement treatment may be appropriate for controlling depression, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, addiction, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders, attention deficit disorder/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) and autism.

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Supplementation over medication?

While it’s everyone’s personal choice how they’d like to treat their mental health condition, it’s no secret that common prescription drugs have really gnarly side effects. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), are a commonly-prescribed drug to treat depression and anxiety and can incur side-effects that range from nausea and headaches, insomnia, fatigue, weight gain and sexual dysfunction. 

As general consciousness shifts to welcome more holistic therapies and treatments for illnesses, so does the discussion about the unrivalled healing properties of the right diet. Because, let’s face it, we wanna get to the root of the problem instead of just masking the symptoms and incurring a whole heap of other symptoms as side effects.

Foods to focus on

Omega-3’s, omega-3’s, and more omega-3’s! Studies have shown that cells within the brain require omega-3 oils in order to be able to transmit signals that enable proper thinking, moods, and emotions. However, omega-3 oils are often present at very low levels in typical Western diets, which favour omega-6’s and are inherently inflammatory. Omega-3’s provide the body with some much needed anti-inflammation nutrients, making them a staple in any mental-health diet, so pack it full with oily fish, healthy oils like olive and coconut and avocados.

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In fitting with it being #internationaldayofhappiness my second latest blog post is on Feel Good Foods! ? In this article I highlight 8 “good mood foods” containing components which act on our bodies pathways to produce happiness, calmness and mental clarity? The SMILE trial published in 2016 by Deakin University in Melbourne started my interest in this area, where they found that people who followed a Mediterranean style diet had a reduction in all symptoms of Depression ?? I feel this field is so important especially due to the rise in mental illness in our society and have personally seen the mental and emotional effects from eating a healthy balanced diet. If you’re interested in learning how the food you choose can influence your mood, check out the link in my bio or contact me for more info! I hope to inspire others to recognise this essential component to our health and would love to help you on your health journey ?

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Vitamin B12, magnesium, vitamin C, zinc and amino acids like taurine are all essential to fighting and combating mental health conditions, making a diet rich in vitamins and minerals fundamental to recovery. A rainbow diet of plant-based sources, if you will.

Speaking with a naturopath or holistic therapies practitioner and getting your diet chock-full of the right nutrients could be transformative for your mental health, decrease your dependency on prescription drugs and actually address the internal cause of the issue.

Always seek advice from a healthcare professional before making any lifestyle changes. 

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