Mental Health & Nutrition

Mental Health & Nutrition

 

By: Phelix Peer

 

“Mind over matter” We’ve all aware of this notion, but what about the physical conditions for which your mind can empower your life? Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Bipolarism, Generalized Anxiety Disorder; these are all examples of conditions frequently faced by humanity in the modern-day era. The shift in focus from simply physical ailments to those of the mental focus is a hallmark of the 21st century. We are realizing more and more, just how important addressing mental health is, and thus the question must be asked: Are we on the right track?

Current models in addressing mental illnesses are primarily based on a pharmaceutical + therapeutic approach. Yes, we have counselors in schools and psychiatrists providing therapy and counselling, doctors ready to prescribe a whole variety of drugs targeting some key physiological processes behind these mental illnesses. But is this enough? Doesn’t this feel like putting a band aid on a broken leg? The rates of psychiatric illnesses in children doubled in the last five years1 (2013 New Zealand Health Survey). The same studies looking at children with diagnosed psychiatric illnesses in 2011/2012 showed a two-fold increase instead.2 Why is this?

A new focus on our approach to mental health is to look at nutrition. If we were to liken our approach to the mental illnesses to other chronic illnesses, such as asthma, arthritis, cancer, pulmonary diseases, and diabetes, we can see that nutrition must be a central focus. As Dr. Julia Rucklidge has stated: “Poor Nutrition is a significant and modifiable risk factor for the development of mental illness.” Chronic deficiencies in specific trace minerals, vitamins and nutrients are key reasons behind why such conditions develop.”1 The pharmaceutical + therapeutic approach is one that only addresses the illness when the problem has already come knocking; what about addressing the underlying condition so that no such problem arises in the first place?

 

References:

  1. Tedx Talks. “The Surprisingly Dramatic Role of Nutrition in Mental Health: Julia Rucklidge: TEDxChristchurch.” YouTube, 10 Nov. 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dqXHHCc5lA&t=86s
  2. Ministry of Health. “The health of New Zealand Children 2011/12: key findings of the New Zealand health survey.” New Zealand, 2012, https://www.moh.govt.nz/NoteBook/nbbooks.nsf/0/35624B64BEC88496CC257AFA0069BF2A