Food and Behaviour Research

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28 July 2018 - Mad In America - Julia Rucklidge: Nutrition, Mental Health and TED

James Moore

Julia Rucklidge

Interview with Dr. Julia Rucklidge. Dr. Rucklidge is professor of clinical psychology at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and leads the Mental Health and Nutrition Research Group.

FAB RESEARCH COMMENT:

Listen to the interview here.

Dr. Julia Rucklidge is professor of clinical psychology at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand and she leads the Mental Health and Nutrition Research Group. Originally from Toronto, Canada, Julia completed her PhD at the University of Calgary followed by a post-doctoral fellowship at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

In the last decade, the Mental Health and Nutrition Research Group has been running clinical trials investigating the role of broad-spectrum micronutrients in the expression of mental illness, specifically ADHD, mood disorders, anxiety and stress.

Julia has over 100 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters, has been frequently featured in the media and has given invited talks all over the world on her work on nutrition and mental health.

the interview discusses:

  • What led Julia to her interest in nutrition and how it may have a role in responding to mental disorders, particularly Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
  • Why using the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamins and minerals may not be the best approach when responding to psychological difficulties.
  • How Julia went about setting up a Randomised Controlled Trial to investigate the effect of micronutrients and minerals on behavioral problems.
  • That the most consistent finding of the study is that the individuals taking micronutrients improved more in their general functioning and impairment when compared to those just taking a placebo.
  • That it’s hard to move away from the conception of mental illness as a chemical imbalance in the brain, partly because of the vested interest in keeping it alive.
  • That there is no opportunity to patent nutrient therapies, so there is little incentive for research and limited commercial interests.
  • Why a single nutrient response might not be the best approach for someone who wanted to use nutrition to improve their mental health and wellbeing.
  • How a dietary deficiency of Niacin during the 1930s led to a condition called Pellagra which often manifested as psychotic symptoms.
  • What led to the flagging of a 2014 TEDx talk Julia gave entitled “The surprisingly dramatic role of nutrition in mental health”.
  • How Julia felt about her talk being flagged by TED.
  • How many historical medical advances, now accepted as the standard of care, at the time flew in the face of conventional scientific thinking.
  • How difficult it has been to communicate with TED about the flagging of the talk.
  • How Julia hears from many people who get in touch to share that they are struggling with psychiatric medications and instead want to look to nutritional solutions.
  • That the best advice is often simple, eat more fruits and vegetables and reduce the amount of processed food.