What You Eat Can Influence Your Mental Health

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  • Researchers found reasonable evidence that the Mediterranean diet can ward off anxiety and depression
  • The structure and function of the brain require a healthy intake of fat, vitamins, protein and minerals
  • Researchers found that the ketogenic diet eases seizures in epileptic children

What you eat has significant effects on your physical health. Your diet is also known to play a role in your risk of developing certain illnesses. Findings of a new study now reveal that food has far more reaching impact on well-being.

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Study researcher Suzanne Dickson, from the University of Gothenburg, and colleagues looked at earlier studies that investigated the link between diet and mental health disorders.

The analysis provided reasonable evidence that a Mediterranean diet long hailed by nutritionists for its beneficial effects particularly on cardiovascular health can ward off anxiety and depression.

The researchers also found that a diet that lacks vitamin B12, an essential nutrient found in animal products, can trigger fatigue, foggy memory and low mood. They also observed a strong association between vitamin B12 deficiency in childhood and increased risk of depression later in life. Vitamin B12 is known to play a role in neurodevelopment.

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The results also provided evidence that the low-carb, high fat ketogenic diet eases seizures in epileptic children. The keto diet has surged in popularity in recent years, thanks to endorsements by celebrities who swear by the effectiveness of the diet for weight loss, but it was originally prescribed as a treatment for epilepsy.

The researchers explained that the structure and function of the brain require a healthy intake of fat, vitamins, protein and minerals, so logical food intake and food quality would have an effect on brain function.

Dickson said that while the effects of diet on mental health are real, their findings still warrant further investigation.

“In healthy adults dietary effects on mental health are fairly small and that makes detecting these effects difficult,” Dickson said.

The study was published in European Neuropsychopharmacology journal.