How Nutrients Affect Mental Health

Nutritional therapy has the potential to provide personalized treatment with a significantly lower risk of side-effects

How Nutrients Affect Mental Health
A depiction of the brain as food. (Shutterstock)
Jingduan Yang

Though medical science has made significant advances in researching and treating mental health diseases and developed new drugs each year to control the conditions and symptoms, mental illness remains one of the most persistent issues in current society.

“Mental health problems are the single largest cause of disabilities in the world,” the Pan American Health Organization reported in 2019, before the ravages of COVID-19. The organization writes that depression, dementia, anxiety, and alcohol abuse are some of the major disabilities caused by mental health problems.
Research into the root causes of mental health issues has provided promising solutions. The Walsh Research Institute, for instance, has made significant breakthroughs in research to unravel the biochemistry behind mental disorders, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
The successful application of research into nutrient-based therapy protocols and other alternative solutions isn't only bringing hope to patients but is revolutionizing mental health care.

Advanced Nutrient Therapy

The Walsh Research Institute reported that most mental health diseases are associated with the chemical balance of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Patients with ADHD, depression, schizophrenia, and various behavior disorders have an obvious chemical imbalance.

While these chemical imbalances may not cause the illness and may be a concurrent result of other factors or even arise as a consequence of mental distress, they may offer an avenue for treatment. That said, some of these imbalances have proven controversial, as in the case of the ongoing debate over the theory that depression is caused by a lack of serotonin.

In this modern era, drugs designed to increase serotonin levels in the brain have been based on an assumption that this imbalance is the root of depression, an assumption that has driven one of the most significant drug interventions in the world with limited success and an ongoing list of potential side effects.

But while pharmaceutical interventions such as antidepressants present the risk of side effects, nutritional interventions are generally much safer. Another important point is that the body has specific nutrient needs and deficiencies can cause systemic issues. The nutritional basis for treatment is very different from many current pharmaceutical interventions.

Advanced Nutrient Therapy, founded by Dr. William Walsh of the Walsh Research Institute, is based on the research data of more than 20,000 patients with various mental health issues, all of whom have undergone biochemical mapping. Nutrient therapy provides nutrition-based therapy and gives people a deeper understanding of their struggles.

Perhaps most exciting is that such research is already resulting in new, nutrient-based therapy protocols and other alternative solutions that expand far beyond the realm of medication and psychotherapy.

And this is just the start. As the science behind biochemical mapping continues to improve, we may gain the ability to dial in specific nutritive solutions for mental problems on a per-person basis. Not only does this present a more cost-effective alternative, but it's potentially 100 percent natural or bio-identical as well.

Of course, many mental health issues aren't solely based on nutrient deficiencies or biochemical issues. People also develop depression and anxiety due to changes in their social environment and daily lives. Treating all conditions as if they're simply biochemical imbalances is a disservice to those who need meaningful support or effective ways to resolve real-world challenges, whether it be the loss of a loved one, financial stress, or general anxiety about a world that offers far too many reasons to be fearful of what the future holds.

Excessive Storage of Certain Nutrients Does More Harm Than Good

While nutritional interventions offer a relatively safe treatment, they're not without potential side effects.

Excessive storage of certain nutrients in the body could be more damaging and cause serious health, especially mental health issues.

Take copper, for example. According to research, elevated copper levels can drastically affect dopamine and norepinephrine production, leading to hormone imbalance. Various mental and behavioral conditions, such as ADHD, anxiety, depression, autism, poor concentration, and learning difficulty, may be associated with copper overload.

When prescribing nutrient-based treatment, we tend to avoid "enriched" foods that might contain copper, such as spirulina and those that possess it naturally, such as organ meats. Since our daily nutrient consumption ensures biochemical needs and function, many experts pave a direct path between what we eat and how we act.

Personalized Nutrient Therapy Is the Key

In recent decades, scientists began to realize that earlier research had led to over-generalizations in medicine, diet, nutrition, and medication recommendations.

Through our growing understanding of epigenetics and biochemistry, we have learned that each person—identical twins notwithstanding—has a unique biochemical makeup and highly personalized nutritional needs. When those needs aren't met, it can impact our physical and mental health in various ways.

Due to the stark genetic differences in how our bodies process foods, following the traditional "food pyramid" or embracing any other "generalized" diet may cause a deficiency in much-needed nutrients in some people and an overflow in others.

Jingduan Yang, M.D. F.A.P.A. is a board-certified psychiatrist specializing in integrative and traditional Chinese medicine for chronic mental, behavioral, and physical illnesses. He contributed to the books "Integrative Psychiatry," "Medicine Matters," and "Integrative Therapies for Cancer." Co-authored "Facing East: Ancient Secrets for Beauty+Health for Modern Age" by HarperCollins and "Clinical Acupuncture and Ancient Chinese Medicine" by Oxford Press. Dr. Yang is also the founder of the Yang Institute of Integrative Medicine and the American Institute of Clinical Acupuncture and the CEO of Northern Medical Center, Middletown, New York, since July 2022.