What Is Nutritional Psychiatry?
Increasingly, researchers are concluding that the diets of people with mental health disorders are lacking in key nutrients for brain health. And they’re finding that replenishing these nutrients can play an important role in treating those disorders. “Nutritional psychiatry” is a fast-growing approach that uses food and supplements in the treatment of mental health conditions.
The Science Behind Nutritional Psychiatry
A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that nutritional treatment may help prevent, treat, or improve depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety, ADD/ADHD, autism, addiction, and eating disorders. And the scientific community is finally beginning to see how food is so strongly linked to brain health/mental health.
In 2015, a group of 18 scientists concluded that “the emerging and compelling evidence for nutrition as a crucial factor in the high prevalence and incidence of mental disorders suggests that diet is as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology, endocrinology, and gastroenterology.”
“…diet is as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology, endocrinology, and gastroenterology.” —The Lancet Psychiatry
In 2017, a 12-week study known as the “SMILES trial” looked at the impact of dietary support compared with social support in 67 people with moderate to severe depression who ate unhealthy diets. After the 12-week trial, 32% of those receiving dietary support achieved remission compared with only 8% of those in the social support group.
As the evidence mounts, it’s clear that what you put in your mouth matters when it comes to mental health/brain health. But when it comes to diet and nutrition, there are so many mixed messages about what’s healthy and what isn’t. What should you eat?
Making Food Insanely Simple
Yes, there is a lot of conflicting health information about food, but there is also a lot of agreement. If you follow these 11 rules your mental health/brain health will start to improve within days.
Only love foods that love you back.
So, you love Hot Cheetos, but do they love you back? They’re filled with pro-inflammatory vegetable oils, sugar that promotes brain aging, and MSG and red dye #40, which can worsen ADD/ADHD symptoms and can cause “mind-storms.”
Go for the highest quality calories you can find, and not too many of them if you need to lose weight.
Calories matter! If you supersize your meals, you’ll supersize your body. And obesity is associated with a smaller brain and increased risk for depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
Hydrate, but do not drink your calories.
Your brain is comprised of 80% water and being even mildly dehydrated can negatively impact your moods—making you feel more anxious, tense, depressed, or angry—in addition to sapping your energy levels and lowering your ability to concentrate. Skip the high-calorie coffee concoctions, sodas, and fruit juices.
Eat high-quality protein at every meal.
It balances blood sugar for more stable moods and keeps cravings away.
Eat and cook with high-quality fat
Did you know that 60% of the solid weight of your brain is fat? Low-fat diets are not good for your brain. Focus on healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and sustainable, clean fish. Fat is not the enemy. Good fats are essential to your mental health/brain health. For example, omega-3 fatty acids have been found to reduce symptoms of depression.
Go for smart carbohydrates (colorful, low glycemic, and high fiber).
Colorful fruits and vegetables boost the level of antioxidants in your body, which reduces the risk of developing cognitive impairment and depression.
Use herbs and spices like medicine.
For example, in multiple studies, a saffron extract was found to be as effective as antidepressant medication in treating people with major depression
Make your food as clean as possible.
Eliminate artificial sweeteners, colors, preservatives, and foods in plastic containers.—Read the labels.
If you struggle with any brain health/mental health or physical issue, eliminate any potential allergens or internal attackers.
Such as sugar, MSG, gluten, corn, soy, and dairy for a month to see if your symptoms improve.
Use intermittent fasting to supercharge your brain.
Get a routine that serves your health rather than hurts it.
Find 25 foods you love that love you back.
If you or a loved one are struggling with anxiety, depression, trouble concentrating, brain fog, or other signs of mental health disorders, understand that finding the root cause of those symptoms is key to getting well. At Amen Clinics, we use brain SPECT imaging to detect brain patterns associated with various disorders and to help us develop a personalized treatment. For over 30 years at Amen Clinics, we have been helping thousands of people by using the least toxic, most effective solutions, including nutrition coaching, supplements, helpful forms of psychotherapy, and much more.
Speak to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or schedule a visit online.