When exploring nutrition for good brain health our Standard Australian Diet guidelines fail to protect our mental health. It falls short of promoting fibre rich vegetables, omega 3 fats, foods high in vitamin B1, B5, folate, magnesium and zinc. Instead their is a dominant focus on refined sugar and flours. Currently mental health issues are a global concern leading to the inability to work, loss of day to day function, poor relationships and social connections. Diet related mental health issues are also influencing many of our children too (1,2).
Within the field of Nutritional Psychiatry there is more research shedding light on the importance of diet when treating individuals suffering from anxiety and depression. Diets higher in plant foods, vegetables, fruits, legumes, lean meats, olive oil, oily fish and adequate amounts of Omega 3's are proving to be an important part of treatment.
A study that was established called the SMILES intervention found that individuals in the dietary intervention had a reduction in their symptoms of depression, with 30 per cent achieving clinical remission compared to only 8 per cent in the control group. What did the control group do differently? Every day they increased their intake of whole grains, fresh fruit, good quality dairy and olive oil. During the week they ate more pulses and fish, therefore they substantially reduced their pre-study diet of pizza, muffins, lollies (highly processed and refined foods). Studies such as these, highlight how some simple changes to food consumption can influence mental health. This study proposes the use of a ModiMed Diet as seen in the diagram.
Food is medicine and certainly has an impact on all aspects of our well being!