What is the Effect of Nutrition on Mental HEalth?

Research Paper Title

The Effect of Nutrition on Mental Health: A Focus on Inflammatory Mechanisms.

Background

Neuropsychiatric disorders are closely associated with a persistent low-grade inflammatory state.

This suggests that the development of psychopathology is not only limited to the brain, but rather involves an additional systemic aspect, accounting for the large body of evidence demonstrating co-presentation of mental illness with chronic inflammatory conditions and metabolic syndromes.

Studies have shown that inflammatory processes underlie the development of neuropsychiatric symptoms, with recent studies revealing not only correlative, but causative relationships between the immune system and psychopathology.

Lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise may influence psychopathology, and this may occur via a bidirectional relationship.

Mental illness may prevent health-seeking behaviours such as failing to maintain a balanced diet, whilst adopting a ‘healthy’ diet rich in fruits, vegetables and fish alongside nutritional supplementation correlates with a reduction in psychiatric symptoms in patients.

Obesity and the gut microbiome have proven to be further factors which play an important role in inflammatory signalling and the development of psychiatric symptoms.

In a related paper the authors focus on the role of exercise (another significant lifestyle factor) on mental health (Venkatesh et al. 2020).

Conclusions

Lifestyle modifications which target diet and nutrition may prove therapeutically beneficial for many patients, especially in treatment-resistant subgroups.

The current evidence base provides equivocal evidence, however future studies will prove significant, as this is a highly attractive therapeutic avenue, due to its cost efficacy, low side effect profile and preventative potential.

By promoting lifestyle changes and addressing the limitations and barriers to adoption, these therapies may prove revolutionary for mental health conditions.

Reference

Edirappuli, S.D., Venkatesh, A. & Zaman, R. (2020) The Effect of Nutrition on Mental Health: A Focus on Inflammatory Mechanisms. Psychiatria Danubina. 32(Suppl 1), pp.114-120.

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