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The Link Between Nutrition and Mental Illness

Clinical psychologist Julia Rucklidge at the University of Canterbury insists that optimizing nutrition is a safe and effective treatment for mental illness. She argues that our reliance on pharmaceuticals has led us down the wrong path when it comes to mental illness.

While she notes that medications can be very effective in the short term, in the long term the side effects and decreasing efficacy over time show us that pharmaceuticals may not be the answer. Her research has shown that twice as many people with ADHD, bipolar disorder, or depression improved with the addition of high doses of micronutrients to their diet. Even post-traumatic stress disorder and psychosis can be impacted or avoided with the addition of micronutrients.

Dr. Rucklidge’s take-away message: A well-nourished body and brain is better equipped to manage stress and emotions.

Fascinating stuff. Watch it for yourself.

Can Autism Be Affected By Diet?

According to the spring, 2013, issue of the Dieticians in Functional Medicine (DIFM) newsletter, autism and other developmental disorders can be influenced by inflammation from what we’re eating.

“In this land of plenty, the standard American diet (SAD) may be causally related to a child’s developmental disability. There is much in the literature that supports healing the body and using food as medicine. Literature has established the presence of gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation in many children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This evidence persuasively suggests that GI inflammation may exacerbate ASD symptoms and, conversely, that dietary interventions can ameliorate GI inflammation in at least some children, improving overall outcomes.”

A 2006 study found that 70% of children on the autism spectrum (ASD) had GI issues including acid reflux, diarrhea, constipation, and malordorous stools. Another study, this one in 2002, found that autistic children put on gluten-free/casein-free diets for one year experienced increased social connectedness, improvement in transitions, and improved willingness to learn.

The Feingold Association has long studied the link between behavior and ADHD and additives like food dyes and colors (FD&D).

Food sensitivity testing can fine-tune an autistic child’s diet and take out the guesswork. You might discount the impact of what your kid is eating on how they are acting, but you won’t know until you radically change their diet just how much they are affected. Because food sensitivity reactions may manifest up to four days after exposure, it can be impossible to determine for yourself if foods are having any impact. When a person is in chronic inflammation, there is no way to make any meaningful connections between foods and behavior or thought processes. It’s only by reducing the overall inflammatory load very scientifically –with the help of a qualified nutrition professional– that these connections will become glaringly apparent.

Pesticides Linked to ADHD?

On Monday this week the American Academy of Pediatrics published a study linking high concentrations of pesticides in urine to ADHD (Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

The contaminated children may have eaten food treated with pesticides, breathed it in the air, or swallowed it in their drinking water. The study didn’t determine how they were exposed. While all children had some quantity of pesticides in their bodies, the ones with ADHD had the highest levels.

It is well known that many commonly used pesticides contain immuno-modulators, endocrine disruptors, and carcinogenic compounds. We live in a world full of these kinds of man-made dangers to our health. It’s good to see that science is finally examining the effects of these toxins on our bodies in a meaningful way.

It all has to do with an individual’s tolerance levels. How much pesticide can this particular child’s body tolerate before the physical effects begin to show up as ADHD? Another child may not be able to tolerate nearly as much as the norm, while still another can tolerate much more without effect. Isn’t this yet another example of how food and chemical sensitivities can manifest differently in different people?

You can lower yours and your child’s pesticide consumption by nearly four-fifths by avoiding the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables and instead eating the least contaminated produce, according to the Environmental Working Group’s calculations.

When you eat the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables, you’ll be exposed to an average of 10 pesticides a day. When you choose fresh produce from the 15 least contaminated fruits and vegetables, you’ll consume fewer than 2 pesticides per day.

The Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides ranks pesticide contamination for 50 popular fruits and vegetables based on an analysis of 96,000 tests for pesticides on these foods, conducted from 2000 to 2008 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the federal Food and Drug Administration.