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Mar 10, 2014

Poor Diet can Negatively Effect your Mental Health

"New research suggests that food can have a powerful influence on cognition and mental health."

For all the scrutiny over the negative effects that a bad diet has on the body, the effects that poor dietary choices have on the brain are still largely unexposed. However, new research suggests that food can have a powerful influence on cognition and mental health. Although strongly emphasized in general practice, the role of diet is commonly overlooked in mental health practice. Dr. Ramsey, who wrote The Happiness Diet: A Nutritional Prescription for a Sharp Brain, Balanced Mood, and Lean, Energized Body, advocates that diet be discussed with anyone suffering from a severe mental illness.  If a patient has certain nutrient deficiencies, it will be difficult for any medications to help until such deficiencies are treated, he explains.
A series of studies conducted at the Deakin University in Melbourne showed a poor diet to be associated with cognitive defects. In one study of 2054 Australian adolescents, a diet consisting of “junk food,” ranging from chips, cookies, pizza and soda was associated with a worsening mental health status during a 2 year period. Another study of more than 23,020 women and children in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study showed that high consumption of junk foods during pregnancy and during the first 5 years of life predicted problems such as aggression, hyperactivity, and tantrums among children.

Other research shows that children with unhealthy diets postnatally have had greater problems with externatlizing and well as internalizing problems, such as worrying, sadness, and anxiety, and that older adults are at lower risk for depression and anxiety with a better quality diet.  Furthermore, it has been found that a diet high in saturated fats and refined sugars have a very negative impact on brain proteins involved in depression-neurotrophins, which protect the brain oxidative stress and promote growth of new brain cells.