Poor nutrition is often an underlying factor and aggravator behind many types of mental illnesses, including depression, according to a new international study involving the faculty of medicine and dentistry of the University of Valencia in Spain. Their findings suggest a broader, nutritionally based approach to treating mental illness.
Nutrition “has become a key factor for the high prevalence and incidence of very frequent mental diseases, such as depression. A balanced diet is as important in psychiatry as it is in other medical specialties such as cardiology or endocrinology,” said Dr. Vicent Balanzá, a psychiatrist at La Fe University Hospital.
The findings call for new treatment approaches in the field of psychiatry.
“Expecting that anyone with mental health problems would recover only with medicines is a very limited view of reality. In our article we argue that the future of psychiatry requires a broader approach in which nutritional factors are essential in order to provide better health outcomes, functioning, and quality of life,” Balanzá said.
Balanzá participated in the scientific review conducted by members of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR) on the importance, research and future of nutritional medicine, as “it has been proven that the quality of diet and the deficiencies in certain essential nutrients are determining factors for physical and mental health.”
Balanzá emphasized that in order to supply optimum performance, the human brain “needs an adequate intake of key nutrients, such as polyunsaturated fatty acids Omega-3, essential amino acids, B-group vitamins (B12 and folate), vitamin D, and minerals like zinc, magnesium, and iron. A balanced and high-quality diet, such as the Mediterranean, provides all of these, but in cases of deficiencies, nutritional supplements are advisable.”
“At the population level, we had scientific evidence that Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cognitive impairment. Now we also know that it reduces the risk of depression. These are strong arguments to preserve a cultural — and wholesome — treasure that has been transmitted over time,” said Balanzá.
Since 2002, Balanzá has been working as a psychiatrist in the Mental Health Unit in Catarroja, which he coordinates. He is also researcher at the Centre for Biomedical Research in Mental Health Network (CIBERSAM).
The recent findings are published in The Lancet Psychiatry.
Source: Asociacion RUVID