Poor diet may worsen one’s mental health, a recent research published in the peer-reviewed journal European Neuropsychopharmacology reveals. Researchers conducted a review on the relationship between a healthy diet and its relation to mental health, they also cautioned that evidence for many diets is comparatively weak.
Lead author, Professor Suzanne Dickson said: “We have found that there is increasing evidence of a link between a poor diet and the worsening of mood disorders, including anxiety and depression. However, many common beliefs about the health effects of certain foods are not supported by solid evidence”.
Researchers were able to firmly establish that the ability of high fat and low carbohydrate diet (a ketogenic diet) could help children with epilepsy, and the effect of vitamin B12 deficiency on fatigue, poor memory, and depression.
Mediterranean diet, which is traditionally rich in vegetables, nuts and olive oil, was also linked to better mental health, it was especially was to be protective against depression and anxiety.
“With individual conditions, we often found very mixed evidence”, said Suzanne Dickson.
“With ADHD for example, we can see an increase in the quantity of refined sugar in the diet seems to increase ADHD and hyperactivity, whereas eating more fresh fruit and vegetables seems to protect against these conditions. But there are comparatively few studies, and many of them don’t last long enough to show long-term effects,” she added.
While study confirmed that certain foods can be associated with mental health conditions, the causal effect of such foods on mental health is yet to be known. The study was observational in nature.
Professor Dickson continued: “There is a general belief that dietary advice for mental health is based on solid scientific evidence. In reality, it is very difficult to prove that specific diets or specific dietary components contribute to mental health.”
Researchers postulated that nutrition in the womb and in early life may have significant effects on brain function in later life. Proving the effect of diet on mental health in the general population merits detailed and large scale investigation.
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