A large team of academics including psychiatrists, nutritionists and other members of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research has called for the study and application of nutritional medicine to become a mainstream part of the practice of psychiatry. “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,” wrote the authors in a commentary in The Lancet Psychiatry.
“Many epidemiological studies, including prospective studies, have shown associations between healthy dietary patterns and a reduced prevalence of, and risk for, depression and suicide,” the team wrote. “Maternal and early-life nutrition is also emerging as a determinant of later mental health outcomes in children, and severe macronutrient deficiencies during crucial developmental periods have long been implicated in the pathogenesis of both depressive and psychotic disorders. A recent systematic review has now confirmed a relation between unhealthy dietary patterns and poorer mental health in children and adolescents.”
The article also examined some of the evidence explaining how different nutrients act on the body and brain. In the concluding section, the authors argued that, “As a result of the immense burden of mental disorders, modifiable targets to reduce the incidence of mental disorders are now urgently needed. Diet and nutrition offer key modifiable targets for the prevention of mental disorders, having a fundamental role in the promotion of mental health. Now is time for the recognition of the importance of nutrition and nutrient supplementation in psychiatry.”
Sarris, Jerome, Alan C Logan, Tasnime N Akbaraly, G Paul Amminger, Vicent Balanzá-Martínez, Marlene P Freeman, Joseph Hibbeln, et al. “Nutritional Medicine as Mainstream in Psychiatry.” The Lancet Psychiatry. Accessed January 31, 2015. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(14)00051-0. (Abstract) (Full text by free registration)