Nutritional Psychiatry: Towards Improving Mental Health by What You Eat

Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2019 Dec;29(12):1321-1332. doi: 10.1016/j.euroneuro.2019.10.011. Epub 2019 Nov 14.

Abstract

Does it matter what we eat for our mental health? Accumulating data suggests that this may indeed be the case and that diet and nutrition are not only critical for human physiology and body composition, but also have significant effects on mood and mental wellbeing. While the determining factors of mental health are complex, increasing evidence indicates a strong association between a poor diet and the exacerbation of mood disorders, including anxiety and depression, as well as other neuropsychiatric conditions. There are common beliefs about the health effects of certain foods that are not supported by solid evidence and the scientific evidence demonstrating the unequivocal link between nutrition and mental health is only beginning to emerge. Current epidemiological data on nutrition and mental health do not provide information about causality or underlying mechanisms. Future studies should focus on elucidating mechanism. Randomized controlled trials should be of high quality, adequately powered and geared towards the advancement of knowledge from population-based observations towards personalized nutrition. Here, we provide an overview of the emerging field of nutritional psychiatry, exploring the scientific evidence exemplifying the importance of a well-balanced diet for mental health. We conclude that an experimental medicine approach and a mechanistic understanding is required to provide solid evidence on which future policies on diet and nutrition for mental health can be based.

Keywords: Cognition; Dietary intervention; Early life nutrition; Nutrients; Nutritional psychiatry; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't