Connection between diet and mental health highlighted by new nutritionist at The Juniper Center.
Some psychiatrists, too, have recently launched a rallying cry for a more integrative approach to mental health care — one that takes diet and other lifestyle factors into account in diagnosing, treating and preventing mental illness. In a paper recently published in The Lancet Psychiatry, an international group of scientists (all members of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research) argue that diet is “as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology, endocrinology and gastroenterology.”
Tamara Waldschmidt, RD, LDN and CEDRD, a Certified Eating Disorder Registered Dietitian who recently joined the Juniper Center couldn’t agree more. Tamara’s work has long focused on the role of the dietitian in the behavioral health community, which in the past was often small to nonexistent.
“The appreciation for the impact of blood glucose levels on mood, anxiety, impulse control and urge regulation is gaining recognition. Our nutrient intake can influence our mood, and our mood in turn can impact our nutrient intake, says Tamara.
Poor nutrition can aggravate symptoms of depression, poor concentration, anxiety, insomnia, aggression, fatigue, and maladaptive behavioral patterns such as addiction, notes Tamara. “Our brain utilizes a significant amount of circulating glucose. Even slight changes in those levels may impact the brain’s function.”
This can affect not only mood, but how the body responds to medication. “Achieving a balanced circulating glucose level can potentially optimize the effectiveness of mood stabilizing medications on the body.” Individualizing energy intake and expenditure in tandem with monitoring feeding intervals with a registered dietitian (e.g. creating a plan with respect to food choices, quantity, meal size, timing, etc.) can be an asset to the mental health treatment team’s goals and outcomes.
Contact us to learn more or schedule a consultation with Tamara Waldschmidt.