Nutritional psychiatry: towards improving mental health by what you eat

Roger A H Adan, Eline M van der Beek, Jan K Buitelaar, John F Cryan, Johannes Hebebrand, Suzanne Higgs, Harriet Schellekens, Suzanne L Dickson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
816 Downloads (Pure)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1321-1332
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Issue number12
Early online date14 Nov 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • Nutritional psychiatry
  • Nutrients
  • Cognition
  • Early life nutrition
  • Obesity
  • Dietary intervention


Dive into the research topics of 'Nutritional psychiatry: towards improving mental health by what you eat'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this