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Mental Health and Nutrition

Micronutrients absorbed in the mouth reduce irritability and anger but not stress in university students

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Written by: Nurina Katta Long-term stress can increase the risk of all kinds of adverse physical and mental health conditions, such as strokes, cardiovascular disease, emotional distress, anxiety, and depression. In addition, stress can lead to poorer lifestyle choices, including smoking, drinking, and overeating1-6. There are high rates of stress among university students7; however, only a small number of students receive...

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

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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...

Pleading for accuracy in trial reporting

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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...

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...

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.

Kai and mental well-being

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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.

Eating well under high stress

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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 caused the high stress, whether it...

Traumatic Brain Injuries and Nutrition

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Not just a knock on the head A Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) is caused by a trauma to the head that can cause damage to the brain. Data shows that the majority of TBIs are received from car accidents and falls. This makes children highly vulnerable. TBIs can be hard to diagnose. It is not uncommon for people to brush...

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...

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

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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...