THE LINK BETWEEN FOOD AND MENTAL HEALTH
- Food is the cornerstone of prevention and treatment of disease in all traditional medical systems
- Scientists are documenting many links between what we eat and how we feel and think
- Our brains are built from what we eat
- Yet the information about the effects of food on our brains is difficult to interpret as the research, clinical and lay advice may be conflicting and confusing
- To learn about the links between food and the mind please vist our blog
HOW DOES FOOD AFFECT YOUR BRAIN HEALTH?
Food and nutrition are hot topics. Americans are flooded with nutrition information through TV adds, news reports, food packaging and labeling. Many seek out additional nutrition information in books, documentary films, and expert advice. Yet, as nutritional science continues to evolve, the nutrition gold standard of one decade may be tossed out the next. What to eat for optimal mental and physical health?
We are witnessing experiments on the grandest scale as large portions of the population embrace various dietary practices following fads, science, or governmental recommendations. In the maze of conflicting information sources, financial interests, and history of errors in dietary recommendations, consumers understandingly can experience anxiety about food choices. Anxiety is further fueled by the suspicions that the interests of the processed food industries, and various agricultural lobbies might have something to do with the claims on food packaging and government recommendations. We are facing “the omnivore’s dilemma,” described by Michael Pollan. We no longer know what is safe or not safe to eat and we are just beginning to evolve new instincts for assessing what is food and what is a food-like substance that might be harmful despite pretty packaging and nutrition claims. While there are good reasons to be wary of the shifting nutritional recommendations, one has to eat something, so it is going to be the Atkins diet or the Meditearean diet, low fat or low carb, eggs or egg whites, casein-free or gluten-free diet?
Science is demonstrating that food can contribute to brain changes through a multitude of mechanisms, such as inflammation, toxicity, and alterations in the substrates for building the brain and brain chemicals. While for some the impact of food on brain function might be limited, for others, with particular sensitivities or genetic predisposition, the impact of diet on the brain can result in mental illness and the related suffering, disability and problems in functioning through disrupting thinking, mood or behavior.