A Summer With The Pioneer In Nutritional Psychiatry

Vina Tran, COL ’25, Lawndale, CA

Nutritional psychiatry is a rapidly rising field of research that has so much potential in shaping brain health. Ever since indulging in Dr. Uma Naidoo’s book This is Your Brain on Food: An Indispensable Guide to the Surprising Foods that Fight Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, and More two years ago, I felt like I finally found the intersection between my interests–the intersection between nutrition and the brain.

This summer, I had the surreal opportunity of working with Dr. Naidoo, a Harvard-trained nutritional psychiatrist, professional chef, and nutritional biologist, and her dynamic team. I have been a huge fan of her work and I felt so honored to be able to work directly with her. It felt like a dream come true. I supported her team in the areas of program development, social media, and
research. My understanding of the gut-brain romance has greatly deepened. Beyond that, I was exposed to the forefront of research on the evolving psychiatric care and the gut-brain connection. I gathered the latest research to provide evidence for the connection and specific nutrients that enhance cognitive health and prevent and manage mental illnesses. I was able to learn more about findings I may not have discovered otherwise, such as psychobiotics and the varied nutrient profiling systems across the world.

Within the time of joining her social media team, Instagram (@drumanaidoo) engagement increased by 4 times and the number of followers has increased by more than 10,000. My work on fiber on her page was featured in Hindustan Times and News18. Seeing my words being quoted and paraphrased as well as my graphic being featured felt rewarding. Being able to have access to and control her social media networks was beyond exciting. I was able to pull a creative spin on many of the posts on top of the designing aspect of the nutritional psychiatry program development to make it more engaging and fun. I experimented with it utilizing a variety of strategies and tweaks to compare engagement levels. Although I am the youngest member of her team, intimidation did not play a part in preventing me from fully contributing. Her interdisciplinary team helped me feel comfortable and confident in my ideas and communicating my thoughts. I felt like a valuable member. According to Dr. Naidoo, her success is her team’s success.

I have been asked to continue working with Dr. Naidoo and her team. I am thrilled to continue growing and evolving with this dynamic and flexible team. What I have learned this summer is invaluable. Through the support of Career Services funding, I was able to focus on this opportunity and fully immerse myself. I am very grateful to have this opportunity to immerse myself in the field of nutritional psychiatry and work alongside my role model, Dr. Uma Naidoo.

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2022 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here.

By Career Services
Career Services