Mental Illness or Nutrient Deficiencies?

Fuel for Thoughts

     Dr. Felice Jacka

    Dr. Felice Jacka

What is fueling the epidemic of mental health? Twelve years ago when I started my clinical practice in Seattle with the idea that food affected mood, people just did not think food was that powerful. Now there is the beginning of a growing movement. The understanding of impact of food and nutrients on mental health is much more common. For instance, the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry has been started by Dr. Felice Jacka, who was one of the first researchers to show that a processed food diet increases the risk of depression and anxiety.

What if the 22% of women between 40 and 60 years old are on an antidepressant are not suffering from depression but from a nutrient deficiency such as glucose control fluctuations because they don’t eat protein until dinner? Or an iron deficiency because they had 3 children and are now peri-menopasual and have heavy menses. Iron is needed to circulate oxygen in the body and synthesize dopamine and serotonin.

I have created a list of citations that explore how food affects our mood and decision making. Additionally, there is a review for Felice Jacka’s papers that Ashely Lions helped me create. 

If someone you connect to is challenged by lack of energy and mental clarity you, as a curious and kind person, could ask the following:

  • "Have you asked your primary care provider to work you up for fatigue? I understand that if you go in and say you are depressed or anxious, they will give you a pill. But if you say you have fatigue, they will do basic lab work.” 
  • “I have heard that nutrition is really important for feeling good, can you talk about what you're eating and maybe see if we can find some areas where you can take small steps to see if you feel better? Or maybe your could see a nutritionist?