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Patients are increasingly interested in utilising a wide range of therapies to support their mental health. Many are also keen to use minimal medication, especially in the longer term, and are looking for approaches which they consider to be more ‘natural’.
A nutritional therapy approach is evidence-based (informed by the best research evidence, clinical expertise and patient values and preferences) and tailored to the needs of the individual. There is good evidence for a range of factors including essential fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6), micronutrients (vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, vitamin D, magnesium and zinc), amino acids (including L-tryptophan, 5-HTP), polyphenols (the substances which give plant foods their colour), dietary patterns such as the Mediterranean diet, gut flora (the microbiome), food intolerances (including non-coeliac gluten sensitivity), improved blood glucose control, stress, exercise and sleep.
At the initial appointment, I take a full case history including current and past symptoms, medical history, family history, and diet and lifestyle habits. Lab tests are often recommended to assess nutrient status, and dietary supplements are often recommended to address nutrient shortfall initially whilst improvements to dietary intake are made. Drug-nutrient interactions are carefully managed. Specific and practical dietary and lifestyle advice is given which is tailored to the needs of the individual. Genetic, environmental and psychosocial factors are taken into consideration.
Patients typically experience improvements in their physical health as a side-effect of a nutritional therapy programme. Nutritional therapy works well alongside medication and other therapies, and indeed, I find that medication and psychological therapies appear to be more effective in a well-nourished individual.
Most patients will benefit from nutritional therapy, including those who already think they eat a healthy diet. In reality, most people don’t eat as well as they would like to think they do, and many will have individual factors which predispose, precipitate or perpetuate nutritional influences on their mental health.
Most patients have a series of about three to six appointments over a 12 month period. Nutritional therapy is covered by some health insurance policies. Please feel free to contact me at the clinic if you have any questions.
Deborah Colson has been in practice, specialising in nutritional support for disorders of the nervous system since 2002. She completed her initial training at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition (DipION), and went on to complete an MSc Nutritional Therapy at the University of Westminster. Deborah lectures regularly to medical and other health professionals, students and corporate audiences, and runs nutrition initiatives and workshops for a variety of institutions. She has authored the books ‘Optimum Nutrition for Your Child’ and ‘Optimum Nutrition for your Child’s Mind’, and is co-author of ‘The Alzheimer’s Prevention Plan’. Deborah is a member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and is registered with the Professional Standards Authority-accredited CNHC (Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council).