Deakin University Logo

Anu Ruusunen

Anu is an honorary member of the Food & Mood Centre at Deakin University, having recently held a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the centre. Her primary research focus is clinical dietary interventions for psychiatric disorders, including eating disorders, depression and schizophrenia.

Anu is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Food & Mood Centre at Deakin University, with a primary research focus on clinical dietary interventions for psychiatric disorders, including eating disorders, depression and schizophrenia. Anu has a Title of Docent in Nutrition, specialisation in psychiatric disorders, and she is a registered dietitian (RD). She has especially pioneered clinical dietary counselling and interventions supporting dietary improvements in psychiatric populations, holding a unique clinical dietitian’s position at the Department of Psychiatry (Kuopio University Hospital, Finland). Anu currently leads the Food & Mood Centre’s research stream for Dietary interventions in severe mental disorders, with a focus on developing and evaluating strategies to improve diet in order to improve physical and mental health in these vulnerable populations.She also loves cooking and baking, hiking, running, and bodyboarding with her family in the ocean waves.

Anu is a Principal investigator in the following research projects:

Dietary intervention for psychotic disorders: a pilot intervention study of ketogenic diet for psychotic symptoms (PsyDiet):

  • Ketogenic diet is commonly used in treatment-resistant epilepsy, however, it is suggested that ketogenic diet may also benefit schizophrenia patients in reduction of psychotic symptoms. However, evidence is still limited and ketogenic diet is not recommended as a treatment option for any mental disorders.
  • The PsyDiet is the first randomised controlled trial of ketogenic diet for psychotic symptoms and is conducted in the Department of Psychiatry, Kuopio University Hospital, Finland, in collaboration with the Food & Mood Centre between 2018 and 2020.

Gut Microbiota in Anorexia Nervosa and Atypical Anorexia – the effects of nutritional rehabilitation on gut microbiota (The ReGut study)

  • Anu led the recent review summarising the current evidence on gut microbiome differences between Anorexia nervosa patients and normal/over-weight controls. The paper also highlighted the need to consider how current nutritional rehabilitation procedures for Anorexia nervosa may affect gut microbiome.
  • The ReGut project will further explore these connections, and it will be carried out in collaboration between The Geelong Clinic’s Eating Disorder Unit and the Food & Mood Centre in 2019-2020.

Cognitive-behavioral theory-based lifestyle group intervention: effects on weight, eating behaviour and mood in patients with mood disorders (PsyKognObe)

  • Obesity is a known challenge among patients with mood disorders and affects both mental and physical health. Thus we examined how dietitian-led lifestyle group intervention (PsyKognObe), which applies the methods of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), affects weight, eating behavior and mood in clinical patients with mood disorders.
  • PsyKognObe-pilot study has been carried out at the Department of Psychiatry, Kuopio University Hospital, Finland in 2016-2017. The results are yet to be published.

Anu has also expanded her research experience in other clinical trials, leading trial part of the Follow-up study with a randomised clinical vitamin D supplementation trial on patients with depression (DepFuD) conducted in the Department of Psychiatry, Kuopio University Hospital Finland (2015-2022).

Research areas and skills: Dietary interventions; Serious mental disorders; Eating disorders; Depression; Gut Microbiome