A letter published this month in World Psychiatry, the official journal of the World Psychiatric Association, is titled: “International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research consensus position statement: nutritional medicine in modern psychiatry.”
You may recall my interview with Dr. Felice Jacka on season 1 of The Anxiety Summit: The Research – Food to prevent and treat anxiety and depression? Dr. Jacka is one of the authors of this position statement and a co-founder of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research/ISNPR which was formed in 2013 with the aim to advance research and communication on nutritional medicine in the field of psychiatry.
Here is an excerpt from the position statement from ISNPR:
Although the growth in scientific research related to nutrition in psychiatry may be recent, it is now at a stage where it can no longer be ignored. In light of this, we aim to provide a platform to move towards a new integrated paradigm in psychiatry whereby nutritional considerations (both educational and prescriptive) can be considered “mainstream”. To this end, we present a consensus position statement from the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR).
They state that what we are doing now is not working, that little is being done about prevention, and that nutrition needs to be part of treatment and prevention:
Present treatment of mental disorders is achieving sub-optimal outcomes; in addition little attention is given to preventative efforts. Due to the immense burden of mental disorders, there is now an urgent need to identify modifiable targets to reduce the incidence of these disorders. Diet and nutrition offer key modifiable targets for the prevention of mental disorders and have a fundamental role in the promotion of mental health.
They state that diet and nutrient-based approached approaches need to be included for mental health treatment and for prevention:
In addition to dietary modification, we recognize that nutrient-based (nutraceutical) prescription has the potential to assist in the management of mental disorders at the individual and population level. Many of these nutrients have a clear link to brain health, including: omega-3s, B vitamins (particularly folate and B12), choline, iron, zinc, magnesium, S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe), vitamin D, and amino acids. While we advocate for these to be consumed in the diet where possible, additional select prescription of these as nutraceuticals may also be justified.
They call for ongoing research, changes in food policy, and better public and clinician education (based on all the new research in this field of nutritional psychiatry).
I look forward to the outcome of the RCT dietary intervention for depression / “SMILES” trial later this year, additional dietary studies, and more studies on individual nutrients such as amino acids like GABA and tryptophan, minerals like zinc and others (which we know work so well for so many people). I’d also love to see trials that look at biochemical individuality and diets and nutrients customized to that uniqueness. I know we’re heading in this direction.
The position statement ends with this:
It is the intention that this position statement and the ongoing work of ISNPR will assist in facilitating a transformation in psychiatry to better address the substantial global burden of mental illness, recognizing and embracing diet and nutrition as central determinants of both physical and mental health.
You can read the whole statement here in World Psychiatry
I say bravo to Dr. Jacka, ISNPR and the researchers who are at the forefront of this exciting research. I also say bravo to all the health practitioners who are already using this work with patients and clients. And finally, I say bravo to the anxious and depressed individuals who are implementing these powerful changes and seeing dramatic results.
It certainly is exciting to be part of this change!