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Nutritional psychiatry: Towards improving mental health by what you eat

Journal article
Authors Roger A. H. Adan
E. M. van der Beek
J. K. Buitelaar
J. F. Cryan
J. Hebebrand
S. Higgs
H. Schellekens
Suzanne L. Dickson
Published in European Neuropsychopharmacology
Volume 29
Issue 12
Pages 1321-1332
ISSN 0924-977X
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Pages 1321-1332
Language en
Keywords Nutritional psychiatry, Nutrients, Cognition, Early life nutrition, Obesity, Dietary intervention, gut-brain axis, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, polyunsaturated fatty-acids, major depressive disorder, microbiota, composition, functional connectivity, mediterranean diet, metabolic, syndrome, cognitive control, postnatal-growth, Neurosciences & Neurology, Pharmacology & Pharmacy, Psychiatry
Subject categories Psychiatry, Neurosciences


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. (C) 2019 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V.

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