Our diet affects mental health

Our diet affects mental health

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Diet also affects mental health and well-being

Numerous scientific studies have been carried out in recent years, which have shown how important the right nutrition is for human health. There are now indications that eating affects not only physical but also mental health.

There is increasing evidence in the scientific community that nutrition affects not only physical, but apparently also mental health and well-being. However, according to a new study, it is still difficult to clearly prove the benefits of certain dietary patterns or foods.

Aggravation of mental disorders

The review by the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP), for which numerous studies on this topic have been evaluated, has been published in the journal "European Neuropsychopharmacology".

"We have found that there is increasing evidence of a connection between poor nutrition and the worsening of mental disorders such as anxiety and depression," explains lead author Suzanne Dickson from Gothenburg University in Sweden, according to a message from the Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE ).

For example, a vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to fatigue, memory problems and a pronounced feeling of depression.

Mediterranean diet can protect against depression

According to the current state of science, a Mediterranean diet rich in fruit, vegetables and olive oil offers some protection against anxiety and depression.

A diet that is poor in such foods, on the other hand, increases the risk of depression. This was determined by researchers from the University of Toronto (Canada).

According to the BZfE, they reported that women who ate less than two servings of fruit and vegetables a day were at higher risk of depression. Furthermore, the consumption of salty snacks, chocolate and pure fruit juice had a negative impact on the mental state.

Men were more likely to experience depressive moods if they consumed more chocolate and less fruit and vegetables. The positive effect of fruit and vegetable consumption is probably due to the valuable ingredients, the scientists explain in the specialist magazine "BMC Psychiatry".

As the BZfE writes, the data on individual foods and nutritional supplements is, according to the Swedish researchers, generally not reliable enough.

Further research needed

When children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) consume a lot of refined sugar, hyperactivity seems to increase, while eating more fresh fruits and vegetables has a positive effect.

However, the studies are not sufficient to estimate long-term effects. There is much to suggest that nutrition in the womb and at an early age has a significant effect on brain function later in life.

"In healthy adults, the effects of diet on mental health are comparatively small," explains Dickson. According to the information, subtle differences in metabolism can lead to some people reacting better or worse to a change in diet.

The structure, structure and function of the brain depend on the availability of suitable nutrients, the scientists explain in the article. It is therefore obvious that food quality contributes to mental health in addition to many other factors.

Research in this area is just beginning. In further studies, the long-term effects of daily nutrition on mood as well as susceptibility to stress will be examined in order to be able to provide well-founded nutritional recommendations. So far, it is still unclear which mechanisms the diet can influence the psyche. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE): Mental Health: What is the influence of nutrition ?, (accessed: 02.02.2020), Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE)
  • Roger A.H. Adan, Eline M.van der Beek, Jan K. Buitelaar, John F. Cryan, Johannes Hebebrand, Suzanne Higgs, Harriet Schellekens, Suzanne L. Dickson: Nutritional psychiatry: Towards improving mental health by what you eat; in: European Neuropsychopharmacology, (published: online: November 14, 2019 and December 2019: Volume 29, Issue 12, Pages 1321-1332), European Neuropsychopharmacology
  • Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE): Nutrition and Depression: Are there any connections ?, (accessed: 02.02.2020), Federal Center for Nutrition (BZfE)
  • Karen M. Davison, Yu Lung, Shen (Lamson) Lin, Hongmei Tong, Karen M. Kobayashi & Esme Fuller-Thomson: Depression in middle and older adulthood: the role of immigration, nutrition, and other determinants of health in the Canadian longitudinal study on aging; in: BMC Psychiatry, (published: 06.11.2019), BMC Psychiatry

Video: 10 Foods to Eat to Fight Depression (May 2022).