How does nutrition affect our mental health?
That was the topic for the final PTF Parent Up Speaker Series presentation of the 2021-2022 school year. Dr. Drew Ramsey, a clinical psychiatrist and professor at Columbia University, had an engaging science-backed presentation to St. Margaret’s parent community, and later Upper School students, last week in Hurlbut Theater.
This year’s PTF Parent Up Speaker Series—which included Dr. Lisa Damour
in October and Dr. Wendy Suzuki
in January—had a theme of mental health and well-being, and Dr. Ramsey brought a unique perspective with his expertise in mental health and how nutrition plays a role in it. He is the author of the books Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety
, Eat Complete
, 50 Shades of Kale
, and The Happiness Diet
Dr. Ramsey dived into the topic of nutritional psychiatry, which he defined as “The use of nutrition to optimize brain health and to treat and prevent mental health disorders.”
He cited numerous scientific studies that explored diet and mental health, also sharing a list of top “brain” nutrition sources, both plant foods (watercress, spinach, lettuces, swiss chard, herbs, etc.) and animal foods (oysters, liver, clam, mussels, crab, etc.). He even provided a list of “simple swaps” to incorporate into your diet—replacing chicken burritos with fish tacos, for example, or replacing soda with herbal tea or kombucha.
During his visit, Dr. Ramsey eagerly immersed in the St. Margaret’s community. Upon arriving in Southern California, he joined the St. Margaret’s surf team for a session at San Onofre State Beach. In addition to the parent talk the following morning, Dr. Ramsey also presented to Upper School students, then had meetings with St. Margaret’s health and wellness teams, including all-school counselors and school nurses. He concluded his stay with a visit to The Ecology Center, a community partner of St. Margaret’s.
If you missed the presentations, video recordings are posted on the mySMES Resources page under the Parent Up tile. You can view the parent presentation by clicking here
The PTF Parent Up Speaker Series is an educational initiative generously funded by the PTF Grant Enrichment Program working in unison with St. Margaret’s academic leaders. This year’s Parent Up Speaker Series committee includes PTF President Amy Ainsworth, Parent Up Speaker Series Chair Carrie Quintanar, Parent Up Speaker Series assistant Vicki Otterbein, St. Margaret’s Assistant Head of School for Strategic Initiatives Ryan Dahlem, and PTF Office Manager Beth Adamany.