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The connection between nutrition and mental health


The connection between nutrition and mental health

A growing research literature suggests that nutrition can affect your mental health.
Time and time again you have been told that the quality of the food you eat has a huge impact on your physical wellbeing.  As we see an increase in obesity and a decline in general physical health, it is important to realise that physical wellbeing is not the only aspect of your health that is you need to worry about and western-style dietary habits come under scrutiny in research.

A meta-analysis including studies from 10 countries, conducted by researchers at Linyi People's Hospital in Shandong, China, suggests that dietary patterns may contribute to depression (Psychiatry Research, Vol. 253, 2017. According to a study led by Felice Jacka, PhD, director of the Food and Mood Centre at Deakin University in Australia (BMC Medicine, Vol. 13, No. 215, 2015), dietary patterns are also related to hippocampal volume in older adults.

Another study led by Maria Izquierdo-Pulido, PharmD, PhD, of the University of Barcelona's department of nutrition, food science and gastronomy, showed that 120 children and adolescents being studied consuming fast food, sugar and soft drinks was associated with a higher prevalence of diagnosed attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) (Pediatrics, Vol. 139, No. 2, 2017. The study also found that children who ate fewer vegetables, fruit, fatty fish and other foods associated with the Mediterranean diet were more likely to have ADHD symptoms.

As study led by Jacka revealed that small dietary changes can make a big difference. In this study, 67 depressed adults were randomly assigned to seven individual nutritional consulting sessions with a dietician or seven social support sessions over 12 weeks.

The dietician helped participants make adjustments to their diets, such as eating less junk food and more ­nutrient-rich foods such as produce, fish and legumes. While just 8 percent of the control group achieved remission, almost a third of the dietary intervention group did (BMC Medicine, Vol. 15, No. 23, 2017).

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