Nutritional psychiatry is an emerging field that explores the link between diet and mental health. While the research is still relatively new, there is growing evidence to support the concept of nutritional psychiatry. Here are some examples of scientific research in this area:
While the research on nutritional psychiatry is still in its early stages, there is growing evidence to support the idea that diet can influence mental health. By adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle, individuals may be able to support their mental health and reduce their risk of developing mental health disorders.
Nutritional Psychiatry & The Gut-Brain Connection
Nutritional psychiatry and the gut-brain connection are closely linked, as the gut microbiome plays a key role in both areas. The gut-brain connection refers to the communication pathways between the gut and the brain, which are regulated by the gut microbiome, the enteric nervous system, and various neurotransmitters and hormones.
The gut microbiome is made up of trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that live in the gut, and it plays a critical role in regulating many aspects of physical and mental health, including mood, behavior, and cognitive function. Emerging research suggests that the gut microbiome may also play a role in the development and treatment of mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
Nutritional psychiatry recognizes the importance of diet and nutrition in supporting the gut microbiome and promoting overall mental health. A healthy diet that is high in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and fermented foods can help promote a diverse and healthy gut microbiome, while avoiding processed foods, sugar, and alcohol can help reduce inflammation and promote gut health.
In addition to supporting the gut microbiome, certain dietary factors can also directly affect brain function and mental health. For example, omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish and nuts have been linked to reduced risk of depression, while a diet high in processed foods and sugar has been linked to increased risk of depression and other mental health disorders.
Nutritional psychiatry and the gut-brain connection are closely intertwined, as diet and gut health play important roles in regulating mental health and well-being. By adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle that supports the gut microbiome, individuals may be able to promote their mental health and reduce their risk of developing mental health disorders.
Our approach to the food we serve is consistent with the research and understanding about how what we eat influences how we feel and function. The stomach produces 90% of our serotonin and 50% of our dopamine, both neurotransmitters that make us feel good and “normal”, in addition to performing many functions that lead to improved mental and physical health.
The typical American diet consists of a lot of processed foods, and people with addiction sometimes don’t eat much at all. Both lead to an insufficient amount of good bacteria in the stomach, which means the brain and body don’t get what they need in multiple areas.
Our chef-prepared meals are filled with healthy grains, vegetables, lean protein, fruit, nuts, and other fresh healthy ingredients, oriented around a Mediterranean diet, which works to improve health in many ways. These foods include prebiotics and probiotics, and we also offer supplements with probiotics to ensure clients get what they need to create an optimal stomach biome. Our chef also teaches workshops to assist clients in understanding the fundamentals of healthy eating and how to plan for and prepare delicious, healthy foods.
Nutritional psychiatry, also known as nutritional psychology, is the study of how dietary factors affect mental health and well-being. This field is relatively new, but research has shown that diet can play an important role in the prevention and treatment of mental health concerns.
In combination with medication management, nutritional psychiatry can provide a comprehensive approach to mental health treatment. While medication can be an important tool in managing symptoms of mental health concerns, it is not a complete solution. By addressing nutritional factors, individuals may be able to reduce their reliance on medication or even eliminate the need for medication altogether.
Research has shown that certain dietary factors, such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and probiotics, can improve mental health outcomes and reduce symptoms of mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety. In addition, certain dietary patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet, have been associated with improved mental health outcomes.
In combination with medication management, a nutritional psychiatry approach may involve working with a healthcare provider to identify dietary deficiencies and make recommendations for dietary changes or supplementation. This may include incorporating more nutrient-dense foods into the diet, such as fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, and reducing or eliminating processed foods and added sugars. In addition, healthcare providers may recommend specific supplements or fortified foods to address nutrient deficiencies.
Overall, the combination of medication management and nutritional psychiatry can provide a comprehensive approach to mental health treatment. By addressing both physiological and psychological factors, individuals may be able to achieve better outcomes and reduce their reliance on medication.
The "gut-brain" connection refers to the complex bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain. This connection is supported by a growing body of scientific research, including studies in neuroscience, immunology, and microbiology.
One key aspect of the gut-brain connection is the role of the enteric nervous system (ENS), a network of neurons and other cells located in the walls of the digestive tract. The ENS is often referred to as the "second brain" because it can function independently of the central nervous system (CNS), which includes the brain and spinal cord. The ENS communicates with the CNS through various pathways, including the vagus nerve, which connects the brainstem to the digestive tract.
Another important aspect of the gut-brain connection is the role of the gut microbiome, the community of microorganisms that inhabit the digestive tract. Research has shown that the gut microbiome can influence brain function and behavior through various mechanisms, including the production of neurotransmitters, hormones, and other signaling molecules.
Furthermore, the gut and brain are interconnected through the immune system, which plays a critical role in regulating inflammation and immune responses throughout the body. Chronic inflammation has been linked to various neurological and psychiatric disorders, including depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline.
The scientific basis of the gut-brain connection is supported by a wide range of research findings, including studies on the anatomy and physiology of the ENS, the role of the gut microbiome in brain function, and the impact of inflammation on mental health. This growing body of research highlights the importance of considering the gut-brain connection in the treatment and management of mental health disorders.
In a 2018 study from a team at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Sheppard Pratt Health System researchers looked at 66 patients hospitalized for mania. These patients completed a clinical trial looking at the two most recommended types of probiotic bacteria (Bifidobacterium animalis subspecies lactis strain Bb12 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus strain GG and), in addition to a placebo group, which were added to treatment as usual for the clients in the study group.
After being followed for 6 months, the results were striking. Patients receiving the probiotic had a significantly decreased risk of being rehospitalized. About 73% in the placebo group were rehospitalized, compared with 24% of patients in the treatment group. In addition, individuals receiving the probiotic were rehospitalized for much shorter periods of time (2.8 vs 8.3 days).
In an interesting human study, scientists transferred gut bacteria taken from anxious humans into “germ-free” mice—which had been raised so their guts contained no bacteria at all. After the transplant, these animals also demonstrated signs of anxiety. Hence the formation of the gut brain connection.
The gut-brain connection has been shown to play a significant role in the signs and symptoms related to mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and stress-related disorders. Here are a few examples of how this connection may contribute to mental health symptoms:
Neurotransmitter production: The gut produces many of the same neurotransmitters that are involved in regulating mood and emotion, including serotonin, dopamine, and GABA. In fact, about 90% of the body's serotonin is produced in the gut. Imbalances in these neurotransmitters have been linked to mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.
Inflammation: Chronic inflammation has been linked to numerous mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. The gut plays a critical role in regulating the immune response and reducing inflammation throughout the body.
Gut microbiome: The gut microbiome can influence brain function and behavior through various mechanisms, including the production of neurotransmitters and other signaling molecules. Imbalances in the gut microbiome have been linked to mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and autism spectrum disorders.
Stress response: The gut-brain connection is also involved in the stress response. Stress can cause changes in gut motility, leading to digestive symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea. Chronic stress has been linked to the development of mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Overall, the gut-brain connection provides a framework for understanding how various biological and environmental factors can contribute to mental health symptoms. By taking a holistic approach to mental health treatment that considers the gut-brain connection, healthcare providers can develop more effective and personalized treatment plans for their patients.
There are several ways to improve gut-brain function and support overall mental health.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet: Eating a diet rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and fermented foods can help promote a healthy gut microbiome and reduce inflammation. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, and alcohol, which can disrupt gut bacteria and contribute to inflammation.
Manage stress: Stress can disrupt gut function and contribute to inflammation. Practicing stress management techniques such as mindfulness meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises can help reduce stress levels.
Get enough sleep: Sleep is critical for regulating mood and promoting overall health. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to support healthy brain function and gut health.
Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help promote healthy gut function and reduce inflammation. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.
Take probiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help support a healthy gut microbiome. Consider taking a high-quality probiotic supplement or adding probiotic-rich foods such as yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut to your diet.
Avoid antibiotics and unnecessary medications: Antibiotics can disrupt the gut microbiome, so it's important to only take them when necessary. Similarly, certain medications such as proton pump inhibitors and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also disrupt gut function and should only be used as directed by a healthcare provider.
Promoting gut-brain health involves making lifestyle changes that support a healthy gut microbiome, reduce inflammation, and promote overall well-being.