The complex interaction between nutrition and mental health is seemingly endless, but I must make the cut somewhere. So, today I bring you the final installment of this mini series that urges you to merge the concept of diet to not just physical health, but mental health as well. Instead of reading the blog first, and then checking out the links for more info, I’m inviting you to watch this Ted Talk video of Dr. Julia Rucklidge first, and then continue to the rest of the blog for a little video review. So click below, sit back, and enjoy, and I’ll check back with you in a few minutes.
Whoa, right! Mind blown! The crazy idea that micronutrients, the same ones we take to give us a healthier physical self, can help our mental self too! Who’d a thunk it? And the best part, adding good nutrition is cheap compared to other forms of treatment, and micronutrient supplementation (when supervised by a qualified professional - of course) has little to no side effects. This is a big deal ya’ll!
So, why isn’t nutrition given a bigger spotlight (or even a lightswitch) when a plan of care is created to help a person struggling with mental illness? Are medical professionals under-educated on the science behind nutrition? Are patients unwilling to make diet modifications? These are great questions about the problem at our current position on the river. But what about the questions that take us a little more upstream.
Dr. Rucklidge touches briefly on the concept of gut absorption. Maybe people aren’t absorbing the nutrients they consume from their super healthy food. This is a real issue. Remember that discussion we had earlier this year about gut permeability, yep, it’s coming full circle now. And it’s going to get even more in depth next month (spoiler alert) when we talk about why our healthy food may not be as nutritious as it used to be.
But even with all the upstream questions, there is a bigger question that none of us want to talk about. Why do we continue to support the standard American diet at home, in schools, at hospitals, etc when no science does? Why do we continue to eat the things that make us feel temporarily good, only to feel worse later. And I’m not just saying society in general, I am specifically talking to you. Yes, you. I’m gonna call everyone to the table (myself included on occasion). Ouch! (I know the truth can sting a bit.) This doesn’t mean that if you aren’t supporting your mental health with optimal nutrition that you should go into a shame and blame spiral. It also doesn’t mean that if you are eating super healthy that you are a smarty pants who’s better than the rest. It means, we all need to start opening ourselves to new ideas so we can apply new info like the stuff presented in this amazing video. And once we are educated about easy holistic methods of health, we need to share it with others to allow them to make informed choices about their best options for health. (Yeah that last one is going out to all my healthcare buddies.)
Take home message: Although this information has been studied for a while, and although the research advocating better micronutrition is well supported, we are still not using diet and nutritional support as a common treatment (or even adjunct) to solving mental health disorders. So if you, or someone you know, is suffering from a mental health illness, consider adding nutrition and diet to the care plan as a way to get healthy again.