How Nutrition can boost Depression and Mental Illness
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How Nutrition can boost Depression and Mental Illness

October 3, 2019

– G’day. My name’s Dr. Andrew
Pennington, and I’m the Practice Principal and an integrative GP at Sanctuary Lifestyle Clinic. Today I’d like to talk
to you about the role of nutrition and its
importance in mental illness. (light music) In Australia, the most recent data we have suggests that, at some
point in your lifetime, around 45% of people will have experienced a mental illness, which is
pretty staggering, really. At any one point in time, there could be up to 10% of us who
are suffering from some form of mental illness. Many have wondered about
the role of nutrition, the role of a good diet. Does it have a role in mental illness? And I think intuitively many of us know that we can reach for comfort foods when we’re feeling down or we might feel a bit of a pick-me-up when
we’ve had a good meal. But we haven’t had a lot of good evidence in the literature that this
actually makes a difference to mental illness until recently. For a little while now, we’ve known that good quality diets,
which generally involve including a lot of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and oily fish, can actually be involved in preventing mental illness, particularly mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Last year, a group in
Melbourne actually published a randomised control trial. What they did was, they
actually took a number of young people who were
identified as having diets that were relatively poor, and they randomised these
people into two groups. One that received social support, as you would normally get if you were suffering from a mental illness. And I should’ve stated
these groups of people also met the clinical criteria
for a depressive illness. And they randomised
them into social support and into social support
and dietary improvement. The dietary improvement was essentially to increase the amount of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts
and oily fish that they ate. After, I believe I think
it was around eight weeks, the study, it was very clear that this group of people that were randomised to receive the dietary advice, did better than the group that did not. Giving us the first really decent, robust evidence that food can improve your mood in the sense of treating depression. We also know from other
studies in the past that the amount of vegetables
and fruit that we eat makes a really big
difference to how we feel. This data comes again from an Australian study where they collected
a number of groups of people and looked
at their health habits in terms of their diet
and categorised them according to how many
fruits and vegetables they ate every day and then
looked at their mood scores. They found that the group
that ate one or less vegetable and fruit per day on average, compared to a group that ate eight or more vegetables and fruit per day, had significantly improved
happiness and wellness from a mental health perspective. This was really interesting. They actually made a
score of mental happiness. I can’t remember exactly
how they calculated it, but it was a few different factors, And the score essentially
was the difference, between eating one per
day versus eight per day, was equivalent to the
improvement in happiness that one might receive from going from being unemployed to employed or actually about half of the effect that it might have is if you actually had a marriage break up. So it’s quite significant
this improvement score that you had from eating an improved diet. Then there’s also some
individual characteristics about nutrition that can
affect one’s mental health. This comes around an
understanding from some data from Dr. Carl Pfeiffer and Dr. Bill Walsh in the United States. They have looked at
individualising different mental illnesses
according to biochemistry. What they’ve found is that not all people who have depression or schizophrenia have exactly the same
types of biochemistry in their brain. And each of these people may benefit from a slightly different
dietary strategy. Often they benefit from having certain nutritional vitamins and
minerals and amino acids and good fats that can actually assist their brain to function better. In many cases, they can resolve or significantly improve
their mental health symptoms. This is very exciting. I’ve seen this happen now many times in the four or five years that I’ve used these techniques with patients, and it’s very exciting because I find that, in many cases, I
don’t need to use any drugs. I’m not opposed to using the medicines where they’re appropriate. But I often find that I don’t need to and that these approaches offer a better side effect profile so that patients don’t get as sick as they may be on some of the antidepressant
or antipsychotic medicines. They often feel better long term. It’s a really exciting approach. I just wanted to make you aware that one of the things we do here in
Sanctuary Lifestyle Clinic is we treat people individually. We try to understand their biochemistry in their brain from an
individual perspective, and this involves understanding
what that chemistry does to traits in that person and then also testing
through pathology testing to find out what type of chemistry may be going on in that person’s brain. And then, as I mentioned, using specific lifestyle strategies, specific
supplement strategies, and, in some cases, some
medication strategies. Combing all that
holistically, we get the best result, I often find, for
that person’s mental health. Perhaps this video may
have been interesting to you, and you realise
that you may need some help in this area, let me encourage you that if you’re in a
crisis situation to call lifeline 131114, or
you can turn up to your local hospital emergency department. However, if the situation’s not so urgent, we’d love to see you here at
Sanctuary Lifestyle Clinic. Just click on the little
details below of this video, and, within that, you’ll
see links to our website, where you can book an appointment if you desire. And you can also book
through our Facebook page. Just search for Sanctuary
Lifestyle Clinic. Or you call 1-300-723-070.

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