Dr. Drew Ramsey, M.D., psychiatrist, farmer, author of Eat Complete, was interviewed on the Anxiety Summit by host of the Anxiety Summit, Trudy Scott, Food Mood Expert and Nutritionist, author of The Antianxiety Food Solution.
Nutrients that Fuel Brain Power and Reduce Anxiety
- The nutritional psychiatry movement and food as medicine
- The impact of food on brain health, neurogenesis and BDNF
- The hippocampus and your diet
- The 21 nutrients that are key for brain health
- The impacts of low zinc, low B12 and low choline diets
- How to get these nutrients in your diet
Here are some gems from our interview:
One, oftentimes mental health symptoms stem from dietary insufficiencies. So people can feel more down, more anxious, more cloudy in their thinking based on the types of food that they’re eating. And then secondly the strongest data is in terms of prevention. So if you do have a disorder – if you have an anxiety disorder or you do really struggle in a way with your mood there’s some data that both the development of depression and the recurrence of depression – it’s very highly correlated with your dietary pattern. And so nutritional psychiatry in summary is looking at mental health through the lens of food and then adding nutrition as a tool to our toolbox as clinicians. I suspect most folks who are listening, maybe you’ve seen a mental health clinician. If you think back to that initial intake was there really detailed dietary history that understood you as an eater? And usually the answer is no. And even in my own practice until a number of years ago that was no. And I’ve trained at some of the best places when it comes to mental health.
No fault of those organizations but it feels to me that this has been a tremendous blind spot for us both in medicine and in mental health. So I’m very excited to see this growing movement. We have the new International Society of Nutrition and Psychiatry Research. There’s been tremendous interest from the American Psychiatry Association in terms of how do we get this into our treatment standards. So it’s a very exciting moment I think in mental health. And I also personally like it because it allows me to talk about some other subjects besides psychotherapy or medications with my patients. And so it’s a lot of fun to be talking about kale salads and do you know how to make ceviche and have you ever made mussels at home.
I love that Dr. Ramsey says: “I eat for a bigger hippocampus.” The hippocampus is an area of your brain involved in emotional regulation and learning. We talked about this in the context of the research published by Dr. Felice Jacka and her team: Western diet is associated with a smaller left hippocampus and anxiety
Dr. Ramsey talks about zinc and animal protein:
Zinc is a mineral and minerals tend to be more absorbable in animal forms. I think a lot of people are very confused about meat and seafood and often intimidated and scared. And then we’ve had this message to go plant based and even vegan which is not a diet that is healthy for the brain.
And low choline and anxiety:
And if you look especially in terms of anxiety really there’s not a lot of data, not a lot of scientific data about anxiety disorders and food. There’s some but the clearest data signal comes from the Hordaland study that looked at correlations of anxiety disorders and different nutrients and found people with lower choline had much higher rates of anxiety.
Dr. Ramsey has written some wonderful books. Here are two of them:
Here is Dr. Ramsey’s 7-Day Brain Boost
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