What If …. Nutrition Could Heal Mental Illness?

Last night despite a seriously miserable head cold I ventured out to UC for a free lecture about the relationship between nutrition and mental illness.  The lecture theatre was packed out.  The subject matter obviously pressed a button for many of us and we wanted to find out more.

I am really interested in how a healthy balanced diet and good nutrition can affect mood, concentration and sleep,  and also perhaps help combat long-term mental decline.  I know from experience how much sharper and less foggy my mind seems to be since I switched to a virtually sugar-free diet six months ago.   Nothing else has changed in my life;  I’ve still got the chaos going on around me.  I’m still busy.  I’m still an average sleeper but my brain does seem to be functioning a little better.  Hurray for that.

Back to last night’s lecture by Julia Rucklidge, Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at Canterbury University.  Once the link to the lecture on YouTube is up I’ll let you know.

The facts are there.  Mental illness is on the up all over the world and studies have shown that higher rates of mental illness are linked to a western diet (one high in refined carbohydrates and processed foods).  And that  in many cases the pharmaceutical response to these mental illnesses does not work long term.  Julia has conducted longitudinal on-off studies using micro-nutrient supplements in place of traditional drugs, which show profound results for patients suffering from a range of mental illnesses including schizophrenia, ADHD, autism, depression, anxiety and dementia.  It is quite compelling evidence.

This lecture reinforced my belief that diet is directly linked to the quality of one’s life and mental and physical well being.  Eating a variety of wholefoods and cooking meals from scratch, shopping responsibly, knowing where your food comes from and how it is grown surely gives you more control over your health.  Choosing organic foods that are grown in nutrient-rich soil  (not soil over-farmed and chemically-enhanced) and supporting local growers whose foods are fresher and therefore richer in nutrients,  has to be a better option than cooking with ingredients that take 10 days to reach supermarket shelves and have been chemically-treated  to prolong their shelf-life.

The idea that the food you eat affects your health is not new.  It has been around for centuries.  That old saying ‘ Let Food Be Thy Medicine and Make Medicine Be Thy Food’ pretty much sums it up.

And whenever I am struggling with my life and hectic commitments I go back to the basics.  Eat well, exercise and be more mindful.  That seems to help me..

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