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.”
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 Psychiatry, 14(3), 370-371. (Full Text)