• Vol. 50 No. 5, 374–375
  • 15 May 2021

Nutritional psychiatry: The next frontier in mental health treatment

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The World Health Organization has envisioned for every human being’s fundamental right to be able to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health, even in the presence of disease or infirmary. Singaporeans’ average life expectancy is projected to reach 85.4 years by the year 2040 and the burden of disease will inevitably rise. The second Singapore Mental Health Study conducted in 2016 revealed 1 in 7 Singaporeans (13.9%) had experienced a mental disorder in their lifetime, and this was an increase from the 2010 study where it was reported at 1 in 8 Singaporeans (12%). Of interest, more than threequarters of them did not seek professional help. There was also considerable treatment delay among those who sought help. Nutritional psychiatry is a developing field that explores how dietary intake patterns affect mood, behaviour and mental health. This novel approach in psychiatric management may have a role in bridging the treatment gap through the prevention of mental disorders, as part of an integrated treatment algorithm, or even as an alternative treatment modality.

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