Nutritional psychiatry: Towards improving mental health by what you eat

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Authors

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

External organisations

  • Department of Translational Neurosciences, University Medical Center Utrecht, Universiteitsweg 100, 3584 CG Utrecht, the Netherlands; Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, The Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Medicinaregatan 11, SE-405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden. Electronic address: r.a.h.adan@umcutrecht.nl.
  • Danone Nutricia Research, Utrecht, the Netherlands; Department of Pediatrics, University Medical Centre Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands.
  • Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, the Netherlands; Karakter Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Nijmegen, the Netherlands.
  • Department of Anatomy & Neuroscience and APC Microbiome Ireland, University College Cork, Ireland.
  • Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany.
  • Suzanne Higgs School of Psychology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.
  • Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, The Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Medicinaregatan 11, SE-405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden. Electronic address: suzanne.dickson@gu.se.

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.

Bibliographic note

Copyright © 2019 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1321-1332
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Neuropsychopharmacology
Volume29
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019