Episode 13 – Dr. Emily Deans on nutrition and mental health

July 4, 2011 in Podcasts | 11 comments

ths podcast logoDr. Emily Deans’ Evolutionary Psychiatry blog has quickly become one of my favorites over the past year. It’s rare to find a psychiatrist that acknowledges the role of nutrition in mental and behavioral health at all, much less one that approaches these topics from an evolutionary perspective.

This week Dr. Deans joins us on the podcast to discuss the role of Paleo nutrition in mental health. Topics covered include:

  • The link between diet and Alzheimer’s
  • Can nutritional changes effect depression?
  • Does gastric bypass surgery lead to mental health issues?
  • Can gluten intolerance induce mental disorders?
  • What role does the “modern lifestyle” play in the increasing prevalence of mental health problems?
  • How does an individual’s mental state influence his/her biology?
  • Does iron deficiency anemia contribute to mental health problems?

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Unleash the Kraken! July 5, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Great show, Emily and Chris. Hope you’ll join forces again soon.


smgj July 6, 2011 at 5:36 am

Great podcast!
I didn’t realise the importance of iron. I’v always been in the bottom-low part of “normal” and this has always been downplayd by my MDs … Now I’m angry! I believe my hashimoto’s treatment always would have been sub-standard without my new MD, which put me on dessicated thyroid and iron + vitamin D + vitamin B supplements.


Mark Taylor July 6, 2011 at 12:44 pm

I was very impressed with Dr Emily’s take on nutrition and how it affects people in a psychological way. I believe it does change your mood when you eat poorly and don’t exercise. I’m still not convinced that your diet can change whether or not you will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease.I have read that A Ketogenic diet can help reduce seizures for epileptics, so maybe there is something to it. Great interview, very informative, and I do hope you have her on again.


John Anderson July 6, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I just want to say how thankful I am for this podcast! So nice to hear Emily’s voice-it is as kind and intelligent as her writing suggests. Keep up all the good work.
On a side note, I ran across a book I thought you guys might both enjoy by a woman who advises for the t.v show “House”. It details the investigative process as regards medicine and focuses in particular on the place of the physical exam and it’s relevance in modern medicine.
All the best,


John Anderson July 6, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Forgot to mention, the book is called “Every Patient Tells a Story”.


Henry D July 7, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Is there a difference between being insulin resistant and being glucose intolerant?


Lauren July 10, 2011 at 6:31 am

I was so interested to hear about the possibility that a ketogenic diet could be helpful for those (like my mother) who are showing signs of dementia. Do you suggest following the ketogenic diet exactly as described in The Perfect Health Diet or should one tweak it in any way?


Emily Deans July 10, 2011 at 8:04 am

Thanks for listening everyone! Smgj – no question iron is vital, but it is a substance where too high and too low are both very toxic. Too high chronically is associated with increased hypertension, heart disease, and possibly increased risk of infection. Too low and you can’t oxygenate your tissues or make many neurotransmitters.

Mark – I have a lot of articles on Alzheimer’s and dementia on my blog. I am positive that a ketogenic diet will not help everyone suffering from the disease – on the other hand, Western medicine offers no method of prevention and no cure (NIH or IOM or someone convened a panel last year with that conclusion). In the face of devastating and fatal neurologic condition, it seems reasonable to recommend a ketogenic diet (carefully done, and I do rather like the PHD style ketogenic diet as it is more flexible with respect to carbs and protein) – as it is at the least (when carefully done) unlikely to cause harm, and there are many case studies and one small pilot RCT showing it to be helpful.

As for prevention, I can only look to the Kitavans, who have no dementia, and no one on the island knew anyone who recognized symptoms of dementia or had died of those symptoms when Staffan Lindeberg was there. No doubt it is a combination of factors, but I think a toxin-free nutrient-rich diet is probably a key one.

Thanks John – that looks interesting!

Henry – not sure what you mean. Insulin resistant generally refers to a metabolic condition “Glucose intolerant” could mean something similar to insulin resistance, or it could be that one’s stomach doesn’t like polymers of glucose in some forms.


Henry D July 11, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Let me clarify. For someone that was insulin resistant for an extended period of time and no longer is, but it could be possible that the damage once done has a lasting effect?

I was obese (insulin resistant) for about 8 years and have been healthy for about 4. I sometimes feel I don’t tolerate too many carbs any more, compared with someone eating a starch-rich diet (like the one Stephan Guyenet eats). Jimmy Moore and Kurt Harris talked about this when Harris was on his podcast some time ago.

Much appreciated,



Emily Deans July 10, 2011 at 8:07 am

Lauren – ketogenic diets as practiced old school for children with epilepsy had many complications including kidney stones, death from selenium deficiency, etc. I do think Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet have circumvented some of those downsides with his plan. I would encourage you to find some professional nutritionist help to make sure Mom is getting all the nutrients she needs.


Daria July 12, 2011 at 7:39 am

Thank you for addressing my question on the podcast concerning Alzheimers and nutrition. I’m happy to report that my mother is now transitioning to a paleo diet and I have her taking coconut oil and fish oil daily!


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