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Food And Your Mood

New research suggests that eating particular foods may actually be an effective antidote for depression and other psychiatric illness. The research will be presented at the annual conference of the New Zealand Dietetic Association, which takes place from 5 to 7 September 2001 in Christchurch.

Key speakers at the conference include Dr Karen Silvers from Crop and Food Research and Dr Richard Porter, senior lecturer in Psychiatry at the Christchurch School of Medicine.

Dr Silvers, who will be giving a lecture on fish and mood, says; “New Zealand has one of the highest rates of major depression and one of the lowest levels of per capita fish consumption in the world. Our research has shown that there is a significant relationship between fish consumption and the self-reported mental heath of New Zealanders.”

Dr Silvers will be presenting information on the mechanisms that are thought to be involved in improving mood amongst fish consumers in New Zealand.

Fish isn’t the only food that is thought to help those who are depressed. A component of protein foods called ‘tryptophan’, may also help people with depression.

Dr Richard Porter, who will be giving a lecture on the effects of dieting on mood, says; “There have been various studies of either low-tryptophan diets or tryptophan supplementation in psychiatric illness. There is some evidence that tryptophan may be a useful anti-depressant. Also, there have been reports of an improvement in cognitive function in schizophrenia amongst those people following a low-tryptophan diet, although the evidence in this area is less clear.”

Dr Porter will be presenting information at the conference on the effect of tryptophan-depleted diets on mood, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The three-day conference is aimed at presenting new research and information to dietitians and allied health professionals in New Zealand. A range of other topics will also be covered including the safety of herbal supplements and combating nutrition misinformation.


The New Zealand Dietetic Association, founded in 1943, is the professional Association for registered dietitians and associated professionals. New Zealand registered dietitians are registered by the Dietitians Board. Members of NZDA work within a professional code of ethics.

The NZDA Conference “Getting Connected” takes place at the Holiday Inn in Christchurch from 5 to 7 September 2001.

The NZDA website contains all the latest information from NZDA, including recent publications and media releases, details of professional development activities, guidance on how to become a dietitian, and membership criteria for joining NZDA. The website address is

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