Review: The Better Brain by Bonnie Kaplan & Julia Rucklidge

This is a book that argues that we can heal at least some mental health issues with better nutrition. Before you roll your eyes, know that this book is very scientific, and all of the claims these authors make are backed up by scientific studies which they go to great lengths to explain.

The reason why I feel like this book is important for therapists is because not every client will consider anti-depressants or other psychotropic medications, and not everyone is helped by these medications. When this happens, I try to brainstorm with my clients about non-medication options that might be helpful. It is well known that exercise helps greatly with depression and other mental health issues; but what about nutrition? On it’s face, it seems like a pipe dream. But the authors ask: why is it that we readily accept that better nutrition will improve our body, heart health and overall wellness – but we leave mental health out of it? Doesn’t it make sense that our brain also uses the nutrients we take in to do it’s job, and if we don’t feed it well, it won’t work as well?

Most of us think only about macronutrients (carbs, proteins & fats), but in this book the authors talk more about micronutrients – all of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to do their jobs. These micronutrients play a huge role in feeding the neurotransmitters in our brains (serotonin, dopamine, etc), and also keeping your telomeres longer, which is associated with healthy aging. For the most part, the authors recommend a Mediterranean diet in order to get all of the vitamins and minerals our body needs.

But they do realize that when depressed or in the throes of other mental health issues, diet changes might be impossible and supplements can be useful. 99% of supplements, though, have not been tested at all for nutrient value, so they recommend certain ones (which they do not get any money from). One thing to understand about supplements is that most scientific studies have focused on only one nutrient (like a B12 study for example); the authors believe this is why we haven’t been able to really see the effects of good micronutrients – the key is having a supplement with a breadth of vitamins and minerals (at least 30). The authors have done studies which show that these types of supplements can reduce aggression, ADHD and extreme stress.

They talk about how our soil (95% of North American soil) has been treated with Roundup or other glyphosate based herbicides, lowering the nutrient value in the soil. The problem is that glyphosate based herbicides increase inflammation, which has been positively associated with higher rates of depression. So eating organic food from healthy soil is really important.

This book would be a great recommendation for someone who is not getting as much benefit as they would like from their medications; or, for someone who is just really opposed to taking psychotropic medications. Although it seems too good to be true, if a client is suffering and not willing to take medications, why not try this as a way of feeling better? There are no negative side effects from getting better nutrition. Also, if you have a lot of clients who resist medication, it might be good to read this book for yourself so that you can make intelligent suggestions when it comes to nutrition and supplements. This book will be out April 20, 2021.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Net Galley for my review. The Amazon link above is an affiliate link. Summaries are not intended to replace the purchase of the book, but simply to save you time reading!

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