Julia Rucklidge, a clinical psychologist, delivers an illuminating TED talk on the noteworthiness of nutrition and its role in mental health. She reminds us of a time when Dr. Semmelweis was mocked for claiming that doctors should wash their hands prior touching pregnant women. She makes a comparison between that reaction with the one doctors have now about the idea of nutrition being more effective than medication, in a case of mental issues like bipolar disorder, ADHD, schizophrenia, and depression.
She points out the fact that even though there are numerous medications available, mental issues continue to rise. “If current medications are effective, shouldn’t mental illness be decreasing rather than increasing?” –she asks.
Doctors from around the world have admitted that they have learned little or nothing about nutrition during their studies. Dr. Rucklidge was uncertain that nutrition alone could be beneficial for these patients as she was thought that nutrition was insignificant in the treatment of mental illness. Nevertheless, she has been doing research over the years and found that “nutrition is a safe and viable way to avoid, treat and lessen mental illness.”
One of the studies she did was a placebo trial in which adult participants were given micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals) to treat ADHD. The study lasted for 8 weeks and during the trial, twice as many participants responded who were in the micronutrient group, when compared to those in the placebo group. Moreover, the ones who continued taking vitamins and minerals continued to see positive results while the symptoms worsened in those who went back to medication.
According to the findings of her research, the currently prescribed medications provide only temporary effects. On long-term basis, they are ineffective, and at some instances even harmful.
Micro-nutrients were also tested on patients suffering from bi-polar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia. The results showed long-term improvement in all patients. Moreover, besides being effective, micro-nutrients are much cheaper than medications.
Dr. Rucklidge emphasizes the fact that nutrition is very important and that poor nutrition is a risk factor for the development of mental illness. “We need to get serious about the critical role played by nutrition.”- she says.