Due to the lack of vitamins and minerals in junk food, not only is it expanding waistlines, but experts are now saying that it’s also causing an ‘epidemic of mental illness’!
Dr. Julia Rucklidge of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand says that the current worldwide epidemic of mental illness is directly linked to the increase in consumption of processed foods. Not only is the neglect of balanced, whole foods causing obesity, but it’s also leading millions of people to turn to drugs and anti-depressants to cope with daily life.
“Our diet has changed so rapidly over fifty years that it’s hard not to believe that it’s having some impact on our mental health,” she said.
Dr. Rucklidge is currently researching the cause of the link between nutrition (or lack thereof) and mental challenges like ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder), anxiety, depression, Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), and post-traumatic stress disorder.
By demonstrating that vitamins and minerals have a direct and positive impact on mental health, Dr. Rucklidge and her team are able to prove that a diet which does not adequately meet nutritional needs can have a negative impact on mental wellbeing.
During an interview with the New Zealand Listener in 2015, it was revealed that she and her team are studying whether NutraTek and Truehope multivitamin formulas can improve the symptoms of mental health disorders.
These brands of supplements have been chosen because they include vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and minerals calcium, chromium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin, zinc, and some amino acids.
According to the trials which have already been conducted, 60-80% of participants responded positively to the treatment with this micronutrient formula, which proves how vital nutrients are for maintaining mental health.
Which foods are best for mental health?
Previous research has shown that a diet including fish oils, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts, and legumes can reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety significantly, which closely relates to a Mediterranean eating plan.
Fish oil, in particular, helps to reduce inflammation throughout the body and can help to rebuild brain cells.
How do supplements improve mental health?
While Dr. Rucklidge is certain that supplements can improve brain function, the mechanism through which they work is still unclear.
It is suspected that it could be the micronutrients that assist the cells of the brain, known as the mitochondria, to function more effectively.
Whether supplements offer the body the right nutrients to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress throughout the body, or whether they simply give the body what it needs to function properly, it is obvious that micronutrients are effective in improving overall wellbeing, including mental health.
Dr. Rucklidge studied the effects of supplements on patients that were diagnosed with ADHD and found that 64% showed a reduction of symptoms within 8 weeks, while only 37% showed any improvements when given a placebo.
She also found that PTSD sufferers showed a 46% reduction in symptoms after receiving an extra dose of vitamins and minerals, which counter-acted the 2% rise in symptoms in those who did not receive any supplementation following a stress-triggering event.
She is due to present her findings at the Australasian Integrative Medicine Associate conference this year, where she will try to persuade governments to consider offering vitamin and mineral supplementation to the victims of natural disasters, such as the 2011 Christchurch quakes.