Is nutrition the key for good mental health?

Several studies have shown the relation between nutrition and mental health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 1 in 4 people are affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. Around 450 million people are battling with one of those disorders every year in the world. 

According to WHO nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental disorder never seek help from a health professional. Stigma and discrimination prevent people seeking care and treatment from reaching people with mental disorders. 

Nutritional psychiatry is a growing discipline that focuses on the use of food and supplements to provide these essential nutrients as part of an integrated or alternative treatment for mental health disorders. The insufficiency of nutrients on the brain contributes to a higher chance of suffering from depression, Alzheimer’s or schizophrenia. 

A recent study has shown that the mediterranean diet may slow the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers found differences in brain imaging scans between people who reported eating a Mediterranean diet and those who ate an unhealthy diet. People who eat a mediterranean diet showed higher brain activity than the people who eat an unhealthy diet. People who did not eat a mediterranean diet showed less brain activity in the areas where Alzheimer’s disease are typically affected. 

Depression is another mental condition that can change with a well balanced diet: there is a link between what one eats and our mental wellbeing, according to Harvard Medical School.  The study Dietary patterns and depression risk: A meta-analysis, concluded: “A dietary pattern characterized by a high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, olive oil, low-fat dairy and antioxidants and low intakes of animal foods was apparently associated with a decreased risk of depression. A dietary pattern characterized by a high consumption of red and/or processed meat, refined grains, sweets, high-fat dairy products, butter, potatoes and high-fat gravy, and low intakes of fruits and vegetables is associated with an increased risk of depression.”

As several studies have indicated, nutrition is important to delay or reduce the risk of developing a mental illness. Another important diet that we can mention, is the medical ketogenic diet, this therapeutic diet has been shown to improve seizure control in patients with drug resistant epilepsy, and is used in some patients with metabolic conditions.

To see how nutrition can be used to positively influence patient outcomes in rehabilitation and mental health, register for your free ticket to the European Neuro Convention running on the 17th & 18th March at the NEC, Birmingham.