Food, your brain and you

Julia Rucklidge is a professor of clinical psychology who has spent the last 10 researching the interface between nutrition and mental illness, using micronutrients as the way to test and look at the relationship between the two.

“13% of the New Zealand population is on an antidepressant and we still have rising rates of mental illness. At some point you kind of go, if this treatment was working so well, our rates of mental illness by now should be going down.”

It’s pretty uncommon to find a psychologist who is interested in nutrition. But Julia Rucklidge thinks it should be part of the core training of psychologists, because it’s such an important piece of the jigsaw puzzle in terms of good health and wellbeing.

New Zealand, along with many other countries, have serious problems with mental health with high rates of suicide, and no one discusses the role of nutrition and mental health. “Millions of dollars are getting spent and it’s mainly on counselling. How is that a solution? It’s not a solution.”

For the past 50-60 years we’ve thought the only way of treating serious mental health issues is with drugs.

“There’s a whole bunch of challenges associated with that model, but we’ve bought into this chemical imbalance theory. There’s no good data to support it, but that’s what we’ve been sold.”

The depressing part of it is, how many trials do you have to do before the public healthcare system wakes up and goes, ‘we should do things differently’, she says.

“They don’t want to open their minds to a different way of thinking. Part of me gets grumpy about that because I pay tax dollars to a system that is broken. That just doesn’t seem right.”

TED talk story, formal warning – link to TED talk

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