Emphasis on Nutrition Needed to Reform Mental Health Treatments


Even though current mental health treatments are “suboptimal,” there is a lack of attention paid to the preventative effects of diet and nutrition.  Recent studies suggest that nutritional changes can influence the risk for mental health issues and that nutritional supplements, called nutraceuticals, can be prescribed for existing conditions.  As the evidence connecting nutrition and mental health increases, a group of researchers has set out to advance these studies and their implementation in the medical and public health fields.

In the October issue of World Psychiatry, the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR) released a consensus statement on the role of nutritional medicine in modern psychiatry.  The group, formed in 2013, asserts that “nutrition and nutraceuticals should now be considered as mainstream elements of psychiatric practice, with research, education, policy, and health promotion reflecting this new paradigm.”

“Epidemiological data, basic science, and clinical evidence suggest that diet influences both the risk for and outcomes of mental disorders,” they write. “As such, we advocate that evidence-based nutritional change should be regarded as an efficacious and cost-effective means to improve mental health.”

The ISNPR is also concerned with the implication of this research on a public health level.  Felice Jacka, the president of ISNPR, told Medscape Medical News that unhealthy foods  “have resulted in a tsunami of ill health across the globe.”

This concern is reflected in the position statement, where the authors advocate that governments examine the activities of the food industry.

According to Medscape, Jacka complains that “highly addictive” unhealthy foods are being so heavily marketed that they’ve become “socially accepted and normalized,” to the point that they are now “ubiquitous.”

The position statement advises that policies are needed to “stimulate significant public change in dietary habits back towards a traditional wholefood diet.”



Read More:


Medscape Medical News: Dietary Change Key to Improving Mental Health, Experts Say



Sarris, J., Logan, A. C., Akbaraly, T. N., Paul Amminger, G., Balanzá‐Martínez, V., Freeman, M. P., … & Jacka, F. N. (2015). International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research consensus position statement: nutritional medicine in modern psychiatry. World Psychiatry14(3), 370-371. (Full Text)


  1. I have been arguing this one for a while. It’s very difficult to convince people who are spellbound by the drugs to understand that the drugs aren’t the one and only answer. Mostly, what I hear is, “Yes, but my depression is so severe I need the drugs.” The assumption is that whatever Big Pharma has to offer is “stronger” than any other approach. This is quite clearly not true. I really think there is a need for nutritionists who think outside the box, that is, those that reject FDA mentality, which is what you get at most nutrition schools, and look at the bigger picture.

    As soon as I realized that all my own difficulties were nutritional, I set out to solve that problem. I realized that I had gone to the Mental Illness System begging for help solving a nutritional problem. They were never equipped to deal with this, so I got psychiatrized. It was almost like I had gone to a podiatrist for a broken tooth. Thirty years later, I realized my nutritional difficulties were never addressed and had been forgotten. I had to experiment on myself until I found answers. This took a very long time. I don’t think I could have done it living in a place where I was seen by everyone around me as “sick,” that is, having a diagnosis.

    I finally decided that I wanted to share with others what I discovered, and help people with problems similar to mine avoid the pitfalls I fell into. So now I am going to be enrolling in a coaching training. Coaches never use DSM labels, in fact, doing so is considered unethical. It’s not about what’s wrong with you, but how you can take very positive steps to fulfill your dreams. Mostly, I need to learn how to be a better listener.

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      • Margie, I, too, experimented on myself. In shrink-talk, they call that self-medicating and tell us it’s a terrible sin. However, the world’s greatest inventions were such experiments. Only by freeing myself from this sin mentality and from those that propagated it was I free to get back in touch with my body. Self-medicating means you take care of yourself. How much more productive and joyful than doctor-prescribed medicating, since our doctors don’t live in our bodies (unless you are one yourself). I’m still working on it, in fact. But had I stuck with doctor-run care, selling myself to them, I’d be dead now. Because I took control, I’m alive. Alive enough to write these words and more.

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  2. I agree that this is really where it’s at and probably what gets overlooked even though psychiatrists are doctors.

    It’s disappointing these days, in Australia i’ve been trying not get get too upset over this “mental as” campaign they’ve had going.

    I get the feeling sometimes that they are honestly trying to deride looking after yourself, exercising, living healthy etc. Seems like this is seen as “wanting to live forever young” or something.

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  3. Issues with the purported inadequacy of nutritional supplements do parallel the overwhelming public angst over the limitations of psychiatric medications themselves. The extant label system, and the homogenization of human suffering encouraged as a cost saver by managed care, create inadequacies on both the Functional and Traditional sides of attempts at psychiatric care. Labels leave even well informed professionals with few options but to take treatment sides with one camp or the other, and to almost completely ignore managed care who uses those same labels to repeatedly deny reasonable treatments.

    Overlooked: the interests of the patient. What each group provides is excellent care, but insufficient awareness of the multiple biomedical variables.

    Each polarized group markets it’s limited perspective as essential. However, in my own opinion, having lived in both camps for more than a decade, the fault is not with either philosophy but the system that insists on outdated labels rather than effective biomedical measurements as determinants for treatment objectives. Both perspectives are essential. Without knowing precise targets the entire process oftentimes devolves to the unacceptable process of shooting geese at night. Honk, bang.

    For other thought leaders who share these views: http://corepsych.com/critical

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