Changes in Diet affect the Brain

Dietary changes that reduce the incidence of, and prevent, mental health disorders are a cost-effective and efficacious means of improving mental health, urges a position statement that sets out a series of recommendations that will advance nutritional medicine in psychiatry.

burger and fries

photo by Brandon Morgan

The statement, released by the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR), emphasizes that there is tested, basic scientific, and clinical evidence to show that diet both influences risk for, and outcomes of mental health disorders. Moreover, a number of nutrients are linked to brain health.

Felice N. Jacka, PhD, associate professor, Division of Nutritional Psychiatry Research, IMPACT Strategic Research Centre, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia, and president of the ISNPR, played a central role in the development of the consensus statement.

But it’s everywhere…  “The situation we find ourselves in around the world is one wherein unhealthy food products are ubiquitous. They’re heavily marketed, they’re socially acceptable and normalized, and we believe that they’re highly addictive,” she told Medscape Medical News.

“The changes to our diet globally have resulted in a tsunami of ill health, and an unhealthy diet is…understood to be the greatest cause of early mortality.

Mental Health Treatment “Suboptimal” In developing the statement, published in the 2015 October issue of World Psychiatry, the ISNPR says that although the outcomes achieved by current treatments of mental disorders are “suboptimal,” little attention is paid to prevention. As such, diet and nutrition are modifiable targets for the prevention of mental disorders and play a key role in the promotion of mental health.

A number of nutrients, it says, have a “clear link” to brain health, including omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, choline, iron, zinc, magnesium, S-adenosyl methionine, vitamin D, and amino acids, and that dietary consumption could be supplemented by the prescription of nutraceuticals.

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