Diet and nutrition are linked to good mental health

Dr. Bonnie Kaplan, a professor at the University of Calgary and a pioneer in a resurgent field of research on the role diet and nutrition plays in the health of the brain said that the medical and psychiatric community is rediscovering the many connections between food and mental illness after more than a half century of depending primarily on prescription drugs for relief.

Kaplan said that from around 1950, there was an explosion of research on medication but when pharmaceutical took over the treatment of psychiatric illeness, centuries of knowledge were lost.

She cited the 1855 edition of The People’s Home Library which was a standard fixture in bookshelves of homesteaders across North American in the late 19th and early 20th centuries where T.J. Ritter, the author, diagnosed that most psychiatric conditions were caused by “imperfect nutrition” and that by improving one’s diet, one can improve his mind.

Kaplan lamented that 20th century mental health care providers are treating the mentally ill with supplements of one nutrient or mineral at a time which resulted to mixed outcomes as the nutrients are all needed together in proper balance.

A recent academic research conducted by Kaplan and Karen M. Davison, Ph.D., R.D. showed the powerful effect of foods on mental health.

In this study, 97 adults who were diagnosed with mood disorder were made to record their diets and moods over a three-day period. At the end of the study, Kaplan and Davison found that participants’ vitamin and nutrient intake was “consistently and reliably” associated with better moods and mental health.

Epidemiological studies also revealed that a Mediterranean diet of mostly vegetables, fruits, nuts, and plenty of olive oil have linked with better brain function.

In a 2011 analysis of more than 5,000 Norwegians, Michael Berk, a professor of psychiatry at the Deakin University School of Medicine in Australia, and his collaborators found lower rates of depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder among those who consumed a traditional diet of meat and vegetables than among people who followed a modern diet heavy with processed and fast foods—or even a health-food diet of tofu and salads.

“Traditional diets have been associated with a lower risk of mental health issues,” Berk said. (Tawid News Team)