“A moment on the lips a lifetime on the hips” – we’re all aware of how food affects our body (even if we conveniently ‘forget’ sometimes!) However, recent studies have dished up some new evidence suggesting that what we eat can actually affect our mental health, a rising concept that is being referred to as “nutritional psychiatry”.
You may be wondering why you haven’t seen this splashed across the tabloids yet and the truth is that there hasn’t been enough research into it to prove the exact impact food types have on mind-set and mental health. However, recent studies in America investigating the correlation between diet and depression has certainly given us something to chew over…
The study, conducted on teenagers aged 12-16 in the US showed that “risk of depression increases by 80% when you compare teens with the lowest quality diet, or what we call the western diet, to those who eat a higher quality , whole foods diet” [Drew Ramsey MD, Clinical Psychiatrist] and this is more alarming when we consider that on average half of all long-term mental disorders start by the age of 14.
Further to this, an in-depth study carried out by the University of Cambridge Research Centre, looking specifically at the components of green tea, found that the prevalence of depression in Japan’s working population was far less in households that consumed greater amounts of green tea.
Of course, all such studies have been met with some criticism, questioning whether there are further links pertaining to correlations of diet and mental health, such as socioeconomic factors – i.e. household income and subsequent living conditions. Yet, to a layman, the results of such studies certainly seem to make some sense, after all, we are animals and it seems logical that in a non-urban setting we should be able to exist in prime health on the earth’s natural resources?!
So what are the doctors recommending? Well to get you started, here are 3 brain-food recommendations from Steven Pratt, MD, author of Superfoods:
Blueberries help protect the brain from oxidative stress and have been shown to reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Deep-water fish, such as salmon, are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are essential for brain function.
Nuts and seeds:
(Essential for stopping you going “nutty” in your senior years) Nuts and seeds contain higher levels of vitamin E, which correspond with less cognitive decline as you get older.
There isn’t much to lose by subscribing to the concept of “nutritional psychiatry” (though your taste-buds may put up a protest!) We could probably all do with paying greater attention to a healthier diet, especially when the advantages could be so significant. Furthermore, even if the benefits of our diet are limited to our physical body – this usually has a subsequent positive effect on self-esteem and confidence nonetheless.
Move over “eat yourself slim” – we’re off to eat ourselves SANE.