Nutritional Psychiatry – what is it?
It’s well-established that proper nutrition is crucial for our physical health, but did you know that the food we eat can also have a significant impact on your mental health? This is something we all instinctively know, and it’s now being studied as a field of mental health medicine – nutritional psychiatry.
Nutritional psychiatry focuses on the relationship between diet and mental health. It shows that what you eat can have a significant impact on your mood, behaviour, and cognitive functions. Your brain requires certain nutrients to function properly, and deficiencies in these nutrients can contribute to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.
Nutritional psychiatry and the essential nutrients
Your brain is a complex organ that requires a constant supply of energy and nutrients to function correctly. The foods you eat contain nutrients that are essential for brain health, including omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. When your diet is balanced and rich in these nutrients, you support your mental health and reduce the risk of developing mental health problems.
Research has shown that people who consume a Mediterranean-style diet, which is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein, have a lower risk of depression and anxiety. This type of diet is also associated with a lower risk of cognitive decline and dementia in older adults.
I will say that no matter the eating plan or diet you consider, they are all the same in terms of eating more whole foods, natural foods and protein sources, and eating less of the processed, convenient, fast foods that are everywhere now.
Other studies have suggested that certain nutrients may have a direct impact on mental health. For example, omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish like salmon, have been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Vitamin D, found in foods like eggs, fortified milk, and oily fish, has been linked to a lower risk of depression.
Probiotics, found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and kimchi, have also been linked to improved mental health. These beneficial bacteria can help to reduce inflammation in the gut, which may play a role in the development of depression and anxiety.
All of these nutrients have been studied to support the theories of nutritional psychiatry, and generally for good mental health and wellbeing.
5 Nutrients your brain needs
I’ve taken a deeper dive here into just 5 of the nutrients that are shown to be key nutrients for mental health and how you can easily incorporate them into your diet.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain health, as they make up a significant portion of brain cell membranes. Studies have shown that people who consume more omega-3 fatty acids have a lower risk of depression and other mental health disorders. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, as well as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts.
- B Vitamins B vitamins are important for maintaining healthy brain function, as they help to produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which regulate mood. Deficiencies in B vitamins have been linked to depression and other mental health disorders. Good sources of B vitamins include leafy greens, whole grains, and lean meats.
- Vitamin D Vitamin D is important for maintaining healthy bones, but it also plays a role in regulating mood. Studies have found that people with depression tend to have lower levels of vitamin D, and supplementation with vitamin D has been shown to improve symptoms of depression. Good sources of vitamin D include sunlight, fatty fish, and fortified dairy products.
- Magnesium Magnesium is a mineral that is important for regulating mood and reducing anxiety. Studies have shown that people with magnesium deficiencies are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety. Good sources of magnesium include leafy greens, nuts, and whole grains.
- Probiotics Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in our gut and help to maintain a healthy digestive system. Recent research has shown that the gut-brain connection is stronger than we previously thought, and that the health of our gut can impact our mental health. Probiotics have been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Good sources of probiotics include fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, and kimchi.
Food as Medicine – aka Nutritional Psychiatry
While nutritional psychiatry is a relatively new field of study, food as medicine has been the backbone of good health for our entire existence. The recent evidence suggests that what you eat can have a significant impact on your mental health and quite simply reinforces something that we already know. Natural therapists such as myself focus very much on your diet for this and other health and wellness reasons.
By consuming a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients, you can support your mental wellness and reduce the risk of developing mental health problems, as well as supporting your recovery from any such mental health conditions.
Incorporating these nutrients into your diet can help to support healthy brain function and reduce your risk of mental health disorders. However, it’s important to remember that a healthy diet is just one part of maintaining good mental health. Other factors such as exercise, sleep, and social support also play important roles. Incorporating healthy lifestyle habits can further support our mental wellness and help us lead happier, healthier lives. If you are experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional.
I do know through my own mental health journey that sometimes factors including diet, nutrition, gut health and other factors are not considered, and that is where support such as kinesiology can really help you. Kinesiology is not to replace any medical advice, but is great at incorporating all the factors affecting your mental wellbeing, and working with the root cause on an emotional or deep level.
Want to try kinesiology with me?
I have had severe post natal depression in the past, and spent 9 weeks in hospital with it, so I have lived experience with mental health conditions. The short version of my journey is that kinesiology was one of the significant factors in my total recovery. You can read my story here
I work with clients with all mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder, dissociative identity disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, psychosis, and post natal depression and psychosis. I also work with people with personality disorders that can often accompany mental health conditions. I see people with depression and anxiety daily.
I’ve also taken additional training in Mental Health First Aid, so I am well-equipped to support you with your mental health journey.
So, if you are looking at supporting your mental wellbeing, or would like to explore the benefits of kinesiology for your mental health condition, you can book here for an appointment with me.Book Here