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Food for thought
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Key message, What we eat and drink affects how we Dietary interventions may be. feel think and behave With the recent significant to a number of the mental. Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey health challenges society is facing. APMS i finding that one in six people but we need to know more There is. have experienced a common mental a lack of investment in research and. problem such as anxiety or depression the translation of knowledge into. in the last week the need for effective straightforward guidance about food. approaches to understanding and production and consumption Nutrition. improving mental health has never been is more than the sum of individual. greater 1 This briefing focuses on how choices and behaviours Public policy. nutrition can be effectively integrated is vital to ensuring that healthy food is. into public health strategies to protect understood available and affordable for. and improve mental health and all,emotional wellbeing It discusses what. we know about the relationship between The role of diet in the nation s mental. nutrition and mental health the risk and health has yet to be fully understood and. positive factors within our diets and embraced The messages about nutrition. proposes an agenda for action can appear to be changeable and. contradictory and shifts in policy and, One of the most obvious yet under practice have been slow to materialise. recognised factors in the development A general lack of awareness of the. of mental health is nutrition Just like the evidence base as well as scepticism. heart stomach and liver the brain is an about its quality have limited progress. organ that requires different amounts of in embracing the role of nutrition in. complex carbohydrates essential fatty people s mental health However this is. acids amino acids vitamins minerals beginning to change. and water to remain healthy An, integrated approach that equally reflects It is necessary for individuals. the interplay of biological factors as well practitioners and policy makers to make. as broader psychological emotional and sense of the relationship between mental. social conceptions of mental health is health and diet so we can make informed. vital in order to reduce the prevalence choices not only about promoting and. and the distress caused by mental health maintaining good mental health but also. problems diet is a cornerstone of this increasing awareness of the potential. integrated approach for poor nutrition to be a factor in. stimulating or maintaining poor mental, i The Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2016 is a survey of mental health and wellbeing across the.
UK It covers diagnosed mental health problems substance dependence and suicidal behaviour and. their causes and consequences, Diet Usually refers to the kinds of food that a person habitually eats In. Western culture diet is also often applied to the lifestyle changes used to. lose weight Although applied to the changes most often used to resolve. a problem associated with being overweight or health issues this may. be more in line with the Latin origins of the word taken from the Greek. diaita meaning a way of life 2, Balanced diet Refers to eating a wide variety of foods in the right. proportions and consuming the right amount of food and drink to achieve. and maintain a healthy body weight NHS Choices 3, Nutrition Refers to the quality of the food we eat for example whether. food is processed or fresh the kind of food we eat for example whether. foods are vitamin and mineral rich or how many calories they contain. how we chose to eat quantity timing motivation for eating different. types of food and how the food has been produced for example has it. been treated with pesticides,Nutrition and mental health why is the. relationship important, Integrated mind body approaches to non communicable diseases such as.
supporting mental health have increased Type 2 diabetes Coronary Heart Disease. in popularity in recent years with and some cancers Less understood. studies supporting the links between is the contribution made by diet to. exercise 4 sleep 5 mindfulness 6 and mental health This is due in part to the. acupuncture7 and mental health There complexity of the relationship and the. is a growing body of evidence indicating need to take into account the effects. that nutrition may play an important of other factors Research has already. role in the prevention development provided evidence that there is a strong. and management of diagnosed mental relationship between physical health. health problems including depression and mental health such as the increased. anxiety schizophrenia Attention Deficit incidence of depression in those with. Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD and heart disease establishing that there is. dementia an indirect link 8 The evidence is now,building about the direct association. It is common knowledge in the UK that between what people eat and how they. there is a well established link between feel,diet and physical health especially for. Dietary Recommendations, The UK government s dietary recommendations are put together with the. guidance and advice from the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food. and Nutrition Policy COMA and its successor since 2000 the Scientific. Advisory Committee on Nutrition SACN 9, Eatwell the government s food consumption guidelines provide the most. up to date overview of which food groups should be consumed on a daily. basis and in which proportions to achieve a healthy diet 10 It outlines the. proportions of the main food groups that form a healthy balanced diet. Eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. Base meals on potatoes bread rice pasta or other starchy. carbohydrates choosing wholegrain versions where possible. Have some dairy or dairy alternatives such as soya drinks choosing. lower fat and lower sugar options, Eat some beans pulses fish eggs meat and other proteins including 2.
portions of fish every week one of which should be oily. Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat in small amounts. Drink 6 8 cups glasses of fluid a day If consuming foods and drinks. high in fat salt or sugar have these less often and in small amounts. Protective factors for mental health, Feeding the brain with a diet that smoking the study found that of those. provides adequate amounts of complex examined the behavioural risk factor. carbohydrates essential fats amino most consistently associated with both. acids vitamins minerals and water low and high mental wellbeing in across. can support healthy neurotransmitter both sexes was the individual s fruit and. activity It can protect the brain from vegetable consumption 15. the effects of oxidants which have been, shown negatively to impact mood and Vitamins minerals and acids. mental health Evidence of nutrition s Vitamins and minerals called. protective qualities can be identified micronutrients perform a number of. across the life course 11 essential functions including assisting. essential fatty acids to be incorporated, From a young age good nutritional into the brain and helping amino acids. intake has been linked to academic convert into neurotransmitters ii They. success with a number of studies play a crucial part in protecting mental. reporting that providing children with health due to their role in the conversion. breakfast improves their academic of carbohydrates into glucose fatty acids. performance 12 A number of published into healthy brain cells and amino acids. studies have shown that hungry children into neurotransmitters. behave worse in school with reports, that fighting and absence are lower and Deficiencies in micronutrients have. attention increases when nutritious been implicated in a number of mental. meals are provided 13 health problems Unequal intakes. ofomega 3 and omega 6 fats in the diet, As we age the protective effect that diet for example are implicated in a number.
has on the brain is evidenced in research of mental health problems including. findings that a diet high in essential fatty depression and concentration and. acids and low in saturated fats slows the memory problems and studies have. progression of memory loss and other shown that increased consumption of. cognitive problems 14 these fatty acids can be helpful in the. control of bipolar depressive symptoms 16, Fruit and vegetables Reports suggest that these fatty acids. A study conducted by Stranges et al have an association with better mental. 2014 in England found that vegetable health even after adjustment for other. consumption was associated with high factors income age other eating. levels of mental wellbeing Along with patterns and a reduced risk of cognitive. impairment in middle age 17, ii They are termed essential as they cannot be made within the body so must be derived directly from. Table 3 Table of essential vitamins and minerals the effects of various and where to. find them18,Nutrient Effect of deficiency Food sources. Vitamin B1 Poor concentration and Wholegrains,attention Vegetables. Vitamin B3 Depression Wholegrains,Vegetables,Vitamin B5 Poor memory Wholegrains.
Stress Vegetables,Vitamin B6 Irritability Wholegrains. Poor memory Bananas,Depression,Vitamin B12 Confusion Meat. Poor memory Fish,Psychosis Dairy products,Vitamin C Depression Vegetables. Fresh fruit,Folic acid Anxiety Green leafy vegetables. Depression,Magnesium Irritability Green vegetables.
Insomnia Nuts,Depression Seeds,Selenium Irritability Wheat germ. Depression Brewer s yeast,Sunflower seeds,Brazil nuts. Wholegrains,Zinc Confusion Oysters,Blank mind Nuts. Depression Seeds,Loss of appetite Fish,Lack of motivation. Risk factors for mental health, Broadly speaking there are two groups higher intake of foods with saturated.
of foods that can have a negative effect fat refined carbohydrates and. on brain function One group trick the processed food products are linked to. brain into releasing neurotransmitters poorer mental health in children and. that we may be lacking thereby creating adolescents 19 Beyer and Payne 2016. a temporary alteration in mood for found that people with a diagnosis of. example caffeine and chocolate bipolar disorder tend to have a poorer. and one group damages the brain by quality diet which is high in sugar fat. preventing the necessary conversion and carbohydrates 20. of other foods into nutrients the brain, requires for example saturated fat such A study looking at the changing diets. as butter lard and palm oil of people living in the Artic and Sub. Artic regions found that levels of, Consuming processed foods depression were rising at the same time. that traditional diets which were high,and additives. in Essential Fatty Acids were being,A systematic review conducted by. abandoned and replaced by more,O Neil et al 2014 showed that.
processed foods 21,unhelpful dietary patterns including. Sugar consumption, The World Health Organization s guidance on free sugars intake. recommends, a reduced intake of free sugars throughout the life course strong. recommendation, in both adults and children reducing the intake of free sugars to less. than 10 of total energy intake2 strong recommendation iii. further reductions of the intake of free sugars to below 5 of total. energy intake conditional recommendation iv 22, iii Strong recommendations indicate that the desirable effects of adherence to the recommendation.
outweigh the undesirable consequences WHO handbook for guideline development 2nd edition. 2014 Geneva World Health Organization, iv Conditional recommendations are made when there is less certainty about the balance between. the benefits and harms or disadvantages of implementing a recommendation WHO handbook for. guideline development 2nd edition 2014 Geneva World Health Organization. The role of food in preventing mental,health problems. As well as the links between diet and coronary heart disease some cancers. positive mental health including healthy osteoporosis and dental diseases 24. brain development there is emerging,evidence that good quality nutrition Poverty. may play a role in contributing to the A multitude of psychological social. prevention of mental health problems cultural and economic factors create. and in the management and recovery the context for our choices about what. from these when and if they do occur and how we eat Poverty is a key risk. factor for both mental health and diet 25, There are a range of inequalities that The complex and cumulative impacts. can contribute to the development of poverty and mental health problems. of mental health problems including on quality of nutrition are affected by. the heightened risk associated with income knowledge and skills availability. poor physical mental health and socio and quality of food as well as time health. economic factors such as poverty Both and convenience. these inequality factors have also been, shown to have a complex relationship The quality of an individual s.
with poor nutrition as described household s and community s diet. below The emerging science looking has a socioeconomic gradient While. at syndemics synergistic epidemics higher quality diets are associated. considers co morbid health conditions with greater affluence energy dense. that are exacerbated by their socio diets that are nutrient poor are more. political environmental and political frequently consumed by persons of. milieu 23 This provides a conceptual lower socioeconomic status and of more. framework which may help us to limited economic means 26. understand the synergy between the,epidemics of obesity and mental health. problems and the actions that we need,to take to shift the conditions that are. currently allowing these to become,significant public health challenges. Poor physical health,Poor physical health is a risk factor for. developing mental health problems,Changes in food production techniques.
such as processing the use of additives,and industrialised farming have all. been directly attributed to serious,physical health problems including. Household income and socio economic It has been argued that psychosocial. status influence decisions about factors in childhood obesity are more. what people eat with this becoming important than functional limitations. an increasingly important factor as and that children who are obese might. household income decreases People be better helped by providing social. living in households in receipt of support rather than to focus on the. statutory benefits consume fewer child s diet and exercise levels 31 This. portions of fruit and vegetables than topic is discussed in more detail in 2011. those in non benefit households 27 National Obesity Observatory Obesity. Numbers of those admitted to hospital and mental health report 32. with malnutrition rose to more than,5 400 in 2012 at the same time as the Alcohol. number of people fed by food banks Alcohol and mental health have a. went to 347 000 in in the same year 28 complicated relationship Mental health. The impact of nutritional challenge on problems can not only result from. mental health status in these groups drinking too much alcohol they can. needs to be investigated also contribute to people drinking too. much In short alcohol has a depressant, Co morbidity effect and can lead to rapid deterioration. in mood Alcohol interferes with sleep,Obesity patterns which can lead to reduced.
The relationship between obesity and energy levels Alcohol depresses the. mental health problems is complex central nervous system and this can. Results from a 2010 systematic review make our moods fluctuate It can be used. of longitudinal studies found two by some to help numb emotions to help. way associations between depression people avoid confronting difficult issues. and obesity finding that people who Alcohol is also associated with disruptive. were obese had a 55 increased risk sleep patterns dietary changes and. of developing depression over time nutritional deficiencies The impact of. whereas people experiencing depression nutritional changes on mental health. had a 58 increased risk of becoming resulting from alcohol intake has yet to. obese 29 be fully understood however studies,have shown the importance of vitamin B. Although obesity can be the result in preventing alcohol related dementia. of poor diet there are a number of Korsakoff s Syndrome. demographic variables that could affect, the direction and or strength of the This is discussed in more detail in our. association with mental health including online A Z on our website. severity of obesity socioeconomic status,and level of education gender age and. ethnicity 30,The role of diet in relation to specific. mental health problems, There is growing evidence that diet Similar conclusions have been drawn.
plays an important contributory role in from studies looking at the association. a number of diagnosed mental health of depression with low levels of zinc and. problems This section presents the vitamins B1 B2 and C as well as studies. evidence for the links between diet and looking at how standard treatments. depression schizophrenia dementia and have been supplemented with micro. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder nutrients resulting in greater reduction in. ADHD symptoms in people with a diagnosis of,depression and bipolar disorder 36. Depression, Depression is the most common mental Schizophrenia. health problem in the UK Talking Although a complex area some. Therapies and Self Management studies have illustrated that diet can. approaches such as Mindfulness have be associated with the onset and. been building in popularity as self development of schizophrenia The. chosen alternatives or complements Dutch Famine Study and 1960s Chinese. to anti depressant medication famine found that severe famine. Interventions that focus on the mind exposure in early pregnancy lead to a. body link such as exercise either two fold increase in the diagnosis of. prescribed or as a self help technique33 schizophrenia requiring hospitalisation in. and emerging areas like acupuncture34 both male and female children 37 38. are also gathering momentum Diet, has emerged as another therapeutic Studies have found that people with. approach seen directly in the work of schizophrenia have lower levels of. Adult Mental Health Dietitians who work polyunsaturated fatty acids in their. with people who experience mental bodies than the general population. health problems to improve knowledge and that antioxidant enzymes are. and awareness of nutrition lower in the brains of people with. schizophrenia Further research is now, A number of large studies have linked being undertaken in this area to identify. the intake of certain nutrients with specific mechanisms through which. reported prevalence of different types of diet can work alongside other treatment. depression A recent study exploring the options to prevent or alleviated the. correlation between low intakes of fish symptoms of schizophrenia 39. by country and high levels of depression,among its citizens found that those with.
low intakes of folate or folic acid were,Many studies have shown a positive. significantly more likely to be diagnosed,association between a low intake of fats. with depression than those with higher,and high intake of vitamins and minerals. intakes 35,in the prevention of certain forms of, dementia One study looking at the with the highest rates of those screening. total fat intake of 11 countries found positive for ADHD recorded in those. a correlation between higher levels of aged 16 24 14 6 43. fat consumption and higher levels of, dementia in the over 65s age group 40 Clinical research has reported the.
A long term population based study benefits of essential fatty acids and. found that high levels of vitamin C and E minerals such as iron Deficiencies in. were linked to a lower risk of dementia iron magnesium and zinc have been. particularly among smokers with similar found in children with symptoms of. findings in other studies focused on ADHD and studies have consistently. different population groups 41 shown significant improvements with. supplementation when compared, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity with placebo either alongside. normal medication or as stand alone,Disorder ADHD,treatments 44 45 46. ADHD occurs in approximately 1 in 10,9 7 of adults in the UK 42 Rates of. ADHD appear to decrease with age,Eating disorders, An individual s relationship with food can develop into a negative. coping mechanism to handle emotional distress Rather than behaviours. manifesting because of the food itself the relationship is based more upon. the notion of controlling one s weight in response to a range of possible. triggers for example neurochemical changes genetics lack of confidence. or self esteem perfectionist personality trait problems such as bullying. or difficulties with school work, Food can play a big part in an individual s eating disorder but the realities.
of eating disorders are often much more broad and complex as the. pre occupation with food is only the outward sign of a desperate inner. turmoil 47, This is discussed in more detail in our online A Z on our website. Discussion, There are emerging but in some cases clear many mental health problems and some. links between diet access to good quality treatments For example strategies that. nutrition and mental health status Just as focus on enhancing an individual s self. the association between diet and physical worth and development of self efficacy can. health took some time to understand and help overweight patients to improve both. embrace there has been a similar pattern their emotional wellbeing and sustain weight. for nutrition and mental health Clinical loss,studies point to the importance of diet as. one part of the jigsaw in the prevention Nutrition has moved up the agenda for. of poor mental health and mental health policy makers although attention has been. problems and the promotion of positive focussed mainly on addressing obesity. mental health and brain development as has been seen in England Wales and. However there remain gaps in the Scotland This said the Framework for. evidence base that need to be addressed Preventing and Addressing Overweight. if the relationship between nutrition and Obesity49 in Northern Ireland. and mental health are to be effectively encouragingly recognises nutrition obesity. reflected in policy and mental health as interlinking presenting. recommendations that accurately reflect, There are two main issues with the the evidence base The emerging framework. current evidence base First that it of syndemics synergistic epidemics may. remains challenging to establish a causal offer a starting point to understanding the. that is a direct relationship rather complex relationship between contextual. than simply a correlation and second factors operating across society and the. there is a lack of studies examining the growing public health challenges and. contribution of combined nutritional personal distress caused by increasing rates. supplements with individual nutrients of obesity and mental health problems. usually examined in isolation Further due, to the methodological variation in studies There is an urgent need for policy makers.
comparison of results is challenging The practitioners industry people who. focus on single nutrients means that the experience mental health problems and the. effects of whole of diet interventions are wider public to recognise and act on the. not well evidenced role that nutrition plays in mental health To. achieve parity between mental and physical, Although good nutritional intake alone health it is vital that the public are informed. may not significantly reduce the overall about the type of diet that will promote. prevalence rates of mental health their mental health in the same way food is. problems diet plays a contributing promoted for physical health reasons Of. role and is a modifiable risk factor that equal importance will be understanding. can be targeted by low cost low risk the mediating role that mental health plays. interventions 48 Good diet has the added in our lifestyle choices including our diet. benefit of counteracting the adverse However wider impact can be achieved. physical health effects associated with by national and local policy well beyond. individual actions,Policy recommendations, 1 Promote community level schemes to 6 The Department for Environment. provide access to affordable nutritious Food and Rural Affairs DEFRA. food particularly in communities needs to ensure that agricultural. at higher risk of developing mental policy reflects the evidence base on. health problems healthy and mentally healthy food,production Specifically support. 2 Improve nutritional literacy,should be increased for the growth. embedded as part of a national,and availability of affordable organic.
mental health literacy programme,produce fruit and vegetables other. by ensuring evidence based,micro nutrient rich food and for. programmes initiatives are publicly,alternative sources for omega 3 fats. available There should be a particular,given the global shortages of oily fish. focus on education in schools with, practical food skills including cooking 7 National NHS bodies need to ensure.
and growing reintroduced as a part mental health multidisciplinary teams. of the national curriculum for all have routine access to dieticians to. students prevent people with mental health,problems developing physical health. 3 Extend schemes such as Healthy,conditions and to support them to. Start50 across the country to,manage the impact of medications on. ensure all children throughout,physical health,their development have access to. appropriate levels of micronutrients 8 National Health Education and. Public Health bodies need to include,4 GPs should be encouraged and.
nutrition within professional training,supported to test people for. curricula for health social care and,nutritional deficiencies if they suspect. educational professionals to help,that their mental health problems. them identify where poor nutrition,could be linked to poor diet and to. may be a factor in mental ill health,prescribe supplements if there is a.
and to help people understand how to,deficiency,improve their mental health through. 5 Introduce regulation to support making dietary changes providing. the promotion of healthy food to guidance on eating well at low cost. children and to protect them from the,9 Prioritise and invest in a mental. marketing of unhealthy foods,health and nutrition research agenda. through public health research bodies,and programmes to improve the. quality of and access to evidence on,what works,Additional Mental Health.
Foundation resources,Feeding Minds The impact of food on mental health. https www mentalhealth org uk publication download feeding minds. Diet and mental health, https www mentalhealth org uk a to z d diet and mental health. Alcohol and mental health, https www mentalhealth org uk a to z a alcohol and mental health. Anorexia nervosa, https www mentalhealth org uk a to z a anorexia nervosa. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD, https www mentalhealth org uk a to z a attention deficit hyperactivity.
disorder adhd,Bipolar disorder, https www mentalhealth org uk a to z b bipolar disorder. Bulimia nervosa, https www mentalhealth org uk a to z b bulimia nervosa. https www mentalhealth org uk a to z d dementia,Depression. https www mentalhealth org uk a to z d depression,Mealtimes and mental health. https www mentalhealth org uk a to z m mealtimes and mental health. Schizophrenia, https www mentalhealth org uk a to z s schizophrenia.


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