Through my journey as a mental health clinician I have come to realize the undeniable link between mental health and nutrition and the challenges that unhealthy mental and emotional relationships with food can cause. Because of that realization I have enhanced my approach to mental and emotional health to include nutritional education to assist in alleviating the challenges people face. Research has shown that “The dietary intake pattern of the general population in many Asian and American countries reflects that they are often deficient in many nutrients, especially essential vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. A notable feature of the diets of patients suffering from mental disorders is the severity of deficiency in these nutrients.”
“The most common mental disorders that are currently prevalent in numerous countries are depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Studies have indicated that daily supplements of vital nutrients are often effective in reducing patients’ symptoms. Supplements containing amino acids have also been found to reduce symptoms, as they are converted to neurotransmitters which in turn alleviate depression and other mental health problems.”
When working with clients who are anxious and depressed I find a commonality of poor dieting and unhealthy relationships with food. One observation is that their nutrition is far from adequate and they continue to make poor food choices and select foods that most likely contribute to their anxiety and depression. “In the mental health world, the most common nutritional deficiencies seen in patients with mental disorders are of omega–3 fatty acids, B vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that are precursors to neurotransmitters.” It is my belief that if an individual will commit to a 90-day plan of healthy nutrition and supplementation that will create a lifestyle that will benefit for years to come. The problem is, most people struggle with the change that is required to make the lifestyle happen!
Our western culture has been on a steep decline for many years in the area of nutrition. Unfortunately, most people do not even give their nutrition a second thought. There is a poverty mindset in the area of nutrition among our communities that is in serious need of change. The poverty mindset starts at home, is reinforced in our public educational system, is highlighted in the giving community, is made convenient on every corner, and then is recycled to the next generation! This cycle is literally killing people everyday! According to an article on the American Psychiatric Association website, the “dietary pattern comprising processed and “unhealthy” foods (western) was associated with a higher likelihood of psychological symptoms and disorders.” Most people know this but do not take any action on changing it!
Rao, T. S. S., Asha, M. R., Ramesh, B. N., & Rao, K. S. J. (2008). Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 50(2), 77–82. http://doi.org/10.4103/0019-5545.42391