Does what you eat affect how you feel?

Does what you eat affect how you feel?

Does your diet affect your mental health? 

Studies have found an association between diet and certain mental health conditions, but there are still many questions about the links between the two.

Read more from this fascinating article via the ABC Health & Wellbeing site…

It's often said 'you are what you eat'.

The links between our diet and our physical health are well established. But what role does your diet play when it comes to your mental health?

You know what it's like when you treat yourself with something sugary or fatty to pep yourself up when you're feeling low. Your mood might improve and you might feel a bit energised for a short time, but these feelings pass quickly and you often end up feeling guilty.

But does this mean a poor diet will affect your mental health?

Associate Professor Felice Jacka, principal research fellow at Deakin University, says many studies worldwide have shown that there's a link between diet and mental health. But this research is still in early stages, so we don't know unequivocally if unhealthy foods actually cause illnesses such as depression.

What's not clear is whether your diet affects your mental health or if it's your mental health that affects your food choices. It's also possible there's something else that is associated with eating a healthy diet – such as regular exercise and other lifestyle choices – that is having an impact on people's mental health, or a combination of these. Or it could be that each of these contributes.

"These are observational studies and all they can tell us is that there's an association – they can't prove that it's a causal association," explains Jacka.

"To do that you need to do experiments on humans where you manipulate their diets and show that there's a direct impact on mental health, which is what we're currently in the process of doing at Deakin [University]."

The science so far

Jacka says the available evidence shows people who eat an overall healthy diet – that is one including lots of fresh, unprocessed and nutrient-dense foods – tend to have better mental health. In particular, research suggests depression and dementia are affected by the quality of our diets across the life span.

She points to research from Japan that found a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits, potatoes, soy products, mushrooms, seaweed and fish was associated with a decreased risk of suicide, while a study on men found a high-fat, junk-food diet can within a week impact spatial memory, which is associated with dementia.

"The studies have shown across time that diet is related to the risk for these disorders and it's certainly associated to prevalence of them," she says.

Jacka's own research has found links between diet quality and mental health in adolescents, and in middle-aged women…

…keep reading the full & original article HERE