Here’s something important that you won’t read outside the specialist press. The first international conference of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR) takes place in Bethesda, Maryland, 30 July – 2 August.
Why is this so important?
On the surface it might seem just another outing for academics. The event will focus on the links between diet, nutrition and mental health, with practical workshops on nutrition and clinical care for those with mental disorders.
Eminent speakers, workshops, networking… Sounds like many other conferences. But this one is mobilising a group of people whose research and dissemination may be able to save us from mental health meltdown.
“The highly consistent evidence from across cultures and age groups now tells us that avoiding Westernized eating habits and returning to traditional whole foods diets may pay huge dividends in the prevention and treatment of mental and brain disorders” says Professor Felice Jacka, president of the ISNPR. “Key nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, zinc, and key nutraceuticals, such as probiotics, may also provide benefit to the management of mental disorders.”
But the true key to a healthy future is prevention.
“We know diet influences a woman’s risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes”, says Professor Jacka, “and that overweight and diabetes in pregnancy can predispose her children to obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Being overweight or obese or having type 2 diabetes in pregnancy is linked to an increased risk of having children with autism spectrum disorders or with a developmental delay.
“Is it the extra weight, is it the food, or is there something going on with the immune system? It’s complex but, overall, the message is that diet in pregnancy really matters.”
Healthy mothers, healthy futures – one of the key messages of the Mother and Child Foundation.
Our future health is seemingly under attack from many different quarters. Climate change, the mass migration of displaced populations, famine, pollution of the environment. And then there’s the one that doesn’t get the press coverage it warrants – the global rise in mental health issues. Over time, this is a cumulative problem that will render humanity incapable of facing its other challenges – for if ever we required the fully functioning power of human ingenuity, that time is now.
And that’s one of the more dramatic reasons why the ISNPR conference is so important.