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Mental Health and Nutrition

Eating well under high stress

When we are under high stress, we can often reach for foods that are “comforting” (like biscuits, donuts, cake, pastries, and chocolate bars), but these foods may not be the best choice for feeding your brain under stressful and demanding circumstances. Comfort foods are calorie-rich but nutrient-poor. Further, under high stress (and it doesn’t actually matter what has...

Can nutrients help people quit smoking?

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...

Kai and mental well-being

This Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori | Māori Language Week 2019, Taryn Hale showcases the importance of traditional kai in Te Whare Tapa Whā, the Māori wellbeing model.

Depression and anxiety: exploring micronutrient interventions

Wellbeing and the media You 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...

Is there any evidence for using micronutrients for the treatment of mental illness?

The notion that good nutrition is good for the brain is not a new idea. What is relatively new is that, until recently, there were very few well conducted studies examining whether a broad spectrum approach using doses of nutrients higher than what you could get out of a daily diet, could treat a mental disorder. At our lab at...

Should I get my nutrient levels checked to determine if I need to take a supplement?

I have noticed a growing number of companies offering to measure nutrient levels and then offering a personalized treatment approach to address deficiencies identified. For example, I was asked by a member of the public what I thought of Spectral Cell Laboratories. Spectral Cell offers micronutrient testing from white blood cells (not the usual from serum or plasma). They test...

Nutrition as part of the solution to the mental health crisis

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...

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

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...

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

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.

Pleading for accuracy in trial reporting

Last week, Mariska Bot and colleagues published a clinical trial in JAMA whereby they randomized overweight or obese adults with subsyndromal depressive symptoms to placebo, micronutrients (400 mcg folic acid, 800IU vitamin D, 30 mcg selenium, 100 mg calcium, and 1412 mg DHA+EPA), micronutrients plus behavioural activation or placebo plus behavioural activation. Their primary outcome was cumulative onset of...