A recent article describes a surprising finding of the relationship between nutrition and mental health. While most believe there is a relationship between junk food and health, and understand the relationship between, for example, a high fat diet and heart disease, mental health has received less attention as a condition with dietary requirements. Experts are now warning that mental disorders may also be related to nutritional deficiencies or require special diets, particularly depression. The brain, just like the body, requires nutrition which includes fatty and essential amino acids, B vitamins, zinc, and iron. Some examples of a diet specifically for certain kinds of mental health are omega-3 fatty acids and fermented foods for depression. There are two aspects; bad nutrition can lead to a decrease in mental health, and good dietary practices can increase mental well-being.
While on reflection it is not a surprise that nutrition and diet affect mental well-being and health, it leads to grave concerns when we consider the changes in diet over the past decades. People are more likely to be obese, but also more likely to have nutritional deficiencies, due to the emphasis on processed and fast food. Given this, it is not a surprise that so many people, children and adults, are now suffering from conditions such as depression, ADHD or even just a lack of focus that prevents one from being at an optimal level. One can assume that poor nutrition, if it has an effect on mental well-being and health, will also impact family, work and school relationships and performance in general. The implications are clearly that good nutrition is not just for ensuring heart health or figure, but also for individual well-being, mental health and social health, but this is not currently supported by the typical Western diet.
- Scutti, S. (2015). Can Mental Illness Be Cured By Diet? Nutritional Psychiatry Steps Into The Limelight, Jun 10. Medical Daily. Web. < http://www.medicaldaily.com/can-mental-illness-be-cured-diet-nutritional-psychiatry-steps-limelight-337414>. Retrieved June 21, 2015.