Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recognise link between diet and mental health
In the comprehensive 2015 report issued by the American Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, there is now a section dedicated to the link between nutrition and mental health. Professor Tom Brenna, a member of the IFBB Science Advisory Board, was on the panel. Although the committee focused on dietary patterns as opposed to specific nutrient intake, it is an important step forward that the influence of overall nutrition on mental health is recognised. A great deal of research is currently being conducted within this area so hopefully future reports from this committee will be more conclusive about specific requirements that can improve mental functioning.
The report states that “sufficiently strong medical evidence has been obtained for EPA and DHA such that supplements are now considered as complementary therapy for major depressive disorder by the American Psychiatric Association.” EPA and DHA are both long chain omega-3 fatty acids that are primarily found in fish and fish oils.
The report also states that there is limited evidence that “a dietary pattern containing an array of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and seafood consumed during adulthood is associated with lower risk of age-related cognitive impairment, dementia, and/or Alzheimer’s disease.” It also goes on to say that “limited evidence suggests that dietary patterns emphasizing seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes are associated with lower risk of depression in men and non-perinatal women.”
This is a great movement forward in increasing awareness of the link between food and its effect on mental ill-health. With ever emerging evidence in this field, further clarity from dietary guidance committees about how what we eat affects our brains, will help us to make informed food choices that may go some way to easing the burden of mental ill-health. 1