Preventing suicide: identifying risk and protective factors

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Over the past four years, New Zealand’s suicide statistics have continued to increase. In 2018, New Zealand's suicide rate was at its highest at 13.67 per 100,000. Males made up 75% of this number. That's almost double the amount of people that died on our roads last year.These statistics just “touch the surface” of New Zealand’s serious social and health crisis.  That doesn’t...

Gut gardening to improve mental health

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The human gut is home to trillions of microorganisms, and research is finding that this microbiome has important impacts on our health and wellbeing. However, what do you do when you feel that your gut microbiome needs a boost? It is possible to change your microbiome, for both better and worse?University of Canterbury MSc Psychology student Jessica Heaton outlines interesting ways to improve our gut microbiome's bacterial diversity, and how this can impact our physical and mental health.

Can nutrients help people quit smoking?

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The idea that there might be a link between smoking and nutrition is one that is probably not thought about very often. We do know that smokers typically have poorer diets than nonsmokers but to date no one has investigated whether ensuring optimal nutrition levels when attempting to quit smoking might be relevant and even helpful in the quit...

Can mineral-vitamin treatment change the microbiome? Yes it can!

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Do people who suffer from specific psychiatric symptoms, like those associated with ADHD, have a different bacterial microbiome than those who don't have these symptoms? Are our bugs making us impulsive? Therefore, what if we changed out these bugs? What's the role nutrition plays? Professsor Julia Rucklidge explores some exciting connections.

Can nutrition be part of the treatment for antenatal anxiety and depression?

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Pregnancy is a time where many physiological and psychosocial changes occur. It can bring feelings of excitement but also apprehensiveness and stress and is a period of increased vulnerability for the onset or relapse of mental illness. The most common mental health problems during pregnancy are anxiety and depression which are amongst the leading causes of maternal morbidity and...

Depression and anxiety: exploring micronutrient interventions

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Wellbeing and the mediaYou would likely notice an increase in a variety of wellbeing interventions in the media recently. Some of these are called complementary and alternative medicines. These approaches are often popular as add-ons to conventional medications or as alternatives to seeking medical intervention. Complementary and alternative medicines are increasing in popularity as more people look for additional...

Nutrition as part of the solution to the mental health crisis

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There has been a small explosion in research using nutrients for the treatment of mental illness over the last decade. The general premise is that our brains need nutrients to function and chemicals that are essential for good mental health, like dopamine and serotonin, require micronutrients, like vitamins and minerals.Preliminary clinical trials are putting micronutrients and good nutrition on...

Sleep tips following stressful events

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In the aftermath of major stress and exposure to traumatic events most adults will experience sleep disturbance of some kind. This may include difficulty in falling asleep when first going to bed, often accompanied by repetitive, intrusive thoughts that can’t be ‘turned off’, more frequent waking during the night with difficulty resuming sleep, and waking early in the morning....

Exploring the microbiome and its relationship with infant health

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For the past several years, through the NUTRIMUM study, Te Puna Toiora | UC’s Mental Health and Nutrition Research group has been investigating the effect that micronutrient supplementation, and maternal depression and anxiety can have on infant development. One of the aspects of interest in this research has been the collection of microbiome samples from mothers and infants, in...

Fish oil supplements in New Zealand

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Are NZ fish oil supplements safe, true to label and can they provide a health benefit?I recently co-authored an article in the New Zealand Medical Journal looking at whether omega-3 fatty acids contained in 10 fish oil supplements sold in NZ are true to label, accurate with health claims and safe to consume. Overall, although likely to be safe...