Pioneering role goes global
Associate Professor Felice Jacka brings together world diet and depression experts.
When Deakin University’s Associate Professor Felice Jacka decided to initiate The International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR) late last year, she can hardly have anticipated the response.
“Some of my colleagues in Japan and I thought it might be a good idea to set up an international society for those working in nutrition and mental health research and see what sort of response we got,” Associate Professor Jacka said.
“There must have been people all over the world just waiting for someone to make the first move.
“We now have 120 members from across the globe, including researchers from some of the leading universities in the US, Asia, Europe and the UK, and in June, we will hold our inaugural conference and AGM.
“Having an incorporated organisation provides many benefits, not the least of which is a forum for all of us working in this area to share our latest research."
That AGM and an inaugural one-day conference will be held at the National Institute of Health and Nutrition in Tokyo.
Associate Professor Jacka, who has been awarded a competitive Fellowship from the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science to support her research visit to Japan, has been a pioneer in the study of the link between nutrition and depression.
With her Deakin colleagues Professor Michael Berk and Dr Adrienne O’Neil, she is leading the world’s first trial to see if a healthy diet can improve the lives of those with depression.
"The hope is that, if the trial is successful and improving diets works to help people feel better, then this is a treatment strategy that can be rolled out to doctors and psychiatrists around the country," Associate Professor Prof Jacka said.
She says her previous research had demonstrated that healthy eating reduced the risk of depression.
“A number of studies have shown pretty conclusively that if you eat a healthier diet then it reduces your risk for depression, and if you eat lots of junk then that increases your risk," Associate Professor Jacka said.
“Foods such as chips, pies, hamburgers and pizza had a detrimental impact on mental health, while fish, lean red meat, whole grains, fruit and vegetables were beneficial.”