Volume 16 • Number 8 • August 2015

Finally! After decades of arguing about the role of nutrition in mental issues we get a bit of validation. The last meeting of the Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association had a presentation on “Nutritional Psychiatry!” This is such great news that I have included two quotations below for you to savor. Despite many other breakthroughs like this we still hear anecdotal reports that the Health Care system is quite slow to adopt these simple nutritional principles. Some patients are told that diet has nothing to do with their health problems. Truly, change takes place one funeral at a time.

Hugo Rodier, MD

Nutritional Psychiatry

Dr Ramsey, in collaboration with the new International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry, is in the process of developing a standardized “brain food diet.” “Food is a very effective and underutilized intervention in mental health,” he started off. “We want to help our patients have more resilient brains by using whole foods…by helping get patients off of processed foods, off of white carbohydrates, and off of certain vegetable oils.”

Though the field is in its infancy, food psychiatry is increasingly being embraced by clinicians and researchers, as a paper published earlier this year in the Lancet Psychiatry attests. (See below) Other recent work found that simply discussing diet with a counselor for just 6 hours over the course of 2 years dropped Beck Depression Inventory scores by 40% in elderly patients with depression.”[1]

Psychiatry is at an important juncture, with the current pharmacologically focused model having achieved modest benefits in addressing the burden of poor mental health worldwide. Although the determinants of mental health are complex, 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. Evidence is steadily growing for the relation between dietary quality (and potential nutritional deficiencies) and mental health, and for the select use of nutrient-based supplements to address deficiencies, or as monotherapies or augmentation therapies. We present a viewpoint from an international collaboration of academics (members of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research), in which we provide a context and overview of the current evidence in this emerging field of research, and discuss the future direction. We advocate recognition of diet and nutrition as central determinants of both physical and mental health.[2]

The same APA meeting discussed the best foods for the brain. If you have been reading this newsletter you already know what they are. But, here is a short summary: eat a plant-based diet rich in leafy vegetables, cruciferous, fruits, nuts, whole grains and lean meats. The main thing is to stop eating processed foods.

Nutritional Psychiatry does not discount the effect of toxic thought patterns, mental programming/habits and relationships. It adds a useful tool to handle such stresses: food for thought. BTW, you may want to review the Newsletter Archive for articles on the Brain –Gut connection. Here is a more recent one:

Mother’s littlest helpers,”[3]

Commensal (gut) bacteria underlie, in part, our nutritional status, immune function, and psychological well-being. The trillions of beneficial microbes within our intestinal tract convert dietary nutrients, inhibit pathogen colonization, regulate immune processes, and produce neural signals. Advances in our understanding of the importance of microbes have motivated the commercial development of products intended to boost “good” commensals and confer health benefits. Probiotic dietary supplements contain live beneficial microbes hoped to subsequently colonize the gut. Prebiotic nutrients are thought to enhance good gastrointestinal microflora by preferentially nourishing beneficial microbes. Even “psychobiotics” are being explored to ameliorate symptoms of psychiatric illness. These live organisms influence the brain through metabolites and neuroactive compounds in rodent models and preliminary human studies. An opportunity to gain insights into how natural selection has shaped the coevolution of hosts and microbes can be found in mammalian mother-infant dyads, as our microbiota are ecologically engineered by mothers and breastmilk. Such insights can be leveraged to improve clinical management and nutritional technologies, enhancing human health not just in infancy, but across the life course.”

Related Articles

Learning to breathe.” JAMA 2015;314:229. Stress causes us to breathe shallowly and hold our breath. Focusing on breathing exercises that emphasize diaphragmatic breathing is very helpful in relieving anxiety and depression. Ask a friend who sings a lot to teach you how to breathe correctly.

Specific SSRIs and birth defects,” British Medical J. 2015;351: h3190. Prozac has been associated with heart wall defects and craniosynostosis. Paxil with heart defects, anencephaly, and abdominal wall defects. Pregnant women should not stop taking them without consulting their doctors. See July blog.

ADD Meds Tied to Life-Threatening Heart Problems in Patients With Long-QT Syndrome,” Online July 6 in the Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology. This is a rare condition, but, not so rare if it happens to you.

Consuming High-Protein Soy Snacks Affects Appetite Control, Satiety, and Diet Quality in Young People and Influences Select Aspects of Mood and Cognition,” J. Nutrition July 1, 2015 vol. 145 no. 7 1614-1622. Best to eat organic and fermented Tofu blocks.

Vitamin B-12 Deficiency in Children Is Associated with Grade Repetition and School Absenteeism, Independent of Folate, Iron, Zinc, or Vitamin A Status Biomarkers,” Nutrition 2015 Jul;145(7):1541-8. B vitamins are critical in making our own neurotransmitters.

Exceptional epigenetics in the brain,” J. Science 5 June 2015: Vol. 348 no. 6239 pp. 1094-1095. Methylation, the critical role of B vitamins in making neurotransmitters, is also vital for DNA replication, especially in the brain. Epigenetics means that the food we eat affects genetic expression.

Psychological Well-Being and Metabolic Syndrome: Findings From the Midlife in the United States National Sample,” J. Psychosomatic Medicine: June 2015 – Volume 77 – Issue 5 – p 548–558 . Metabolism = food. Metabolic disorders like diabetes, obesity etc., are associated with depression.

Dysglycemia and Cognitive Dysfunction and Ill Health in People With High Cardiovascular Risk,” Journal Clinical Endocrinology Metabolism 2015;100(7), pp. 2682–2689. Diabetic tendencies, depression and heart disease are associated.

SLEEP 2015: Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies:

Physical activities, such as walking, as well as aerobics/calisthenics, biking, gardening, golfing, running, weight-lifting, and yoga/Pilates, are associated with better sleep habits compared with no activity. In contrast, physical activity that involved household and childcare is associated with poor sleep habits. “My feeling is if you are getting most of your physical activity from household work and childcare, you have other problems, you have stress, time demands, and that’s why you aren’t sleeping.”

Psychotropic drugs and homicide: A prospective cohort study from Finland,” J. World Psychiatry Epub June 4 2015. Psychotropic medications, including antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and particularly opiate and nonopiate analgesics, are associated with a significantly increased risk for homicide, new research shows. Antidepressants increase the homicide risk by 31% and that benzodiazepines increase the risk by 45%

Effects of prenatal exposure to air pollutants (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) on the development of brain white matter, cognition, and behavior in later childhood,” JAMA Psychiatry. Epub 2015 Mar 25. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.57

Internet use, Facebook intrusion, and depression: results of a cross-sectional study,” J. European Psychiatry Published Online: May 08, 2015.

Depression and subsequent risk of Parkinson disease,” Epub J Neurology May 26 2015

Mediterranean Diet and Age-Related Cognitive Decline: A Randomized Clinical Trial,” JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(7):1094

A 2 year multidomain intervention of diet, exercise, cognitive training, and vascular risk monitoring versus control to prevent cognitive decline in at-risk elderly people (FINGER): a randomised controlled trial,” J. Lancet Volume 385, No. 9984 , p2255–2263, 6 June 2015

A Fat to Forget: Trans Fat Consumption and Memory,” J. PLOS One, Published online June 17, 2015. Artificial fats and sugars interfere with neurotransmitter synthesis.

Antidepressant/NSAID (Ibuprofen) Combo Linked to Increased Brain Bleed Risk,” BMJ Published online July 14th 2015

  1. American Psychiatric Association (APA) 2015 Annual Meeting
  2. “Nutritional medicine as mainstream in psychiatry,” J. Lancet Volume 2, No. 3 , p271–274, March 2015
  3. J. Science 26 June 2015:Vol. 348 no. 6242 pp. 1427-1428
Hugo Rodier, MD is an integrative physician based in Draper, Utah who specializes in healing chronic disease at the cellular level by blending proper nutrition, lifestyle changes, & allopathic practices when necessary.
  1. Pingback: 5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues | Cell Nutritionals

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