9 ways diet affects mental health

A British researcher recently published a paper in which he reviewed past research to explore the connection between diet and cognitive function through the average lifespan.

Specifically, he explored how macronutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrates) affect our mental health. This is an interesting strategy given that much of the research studying mental health and diet focuses on micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

Here are 9 of his conclusions:

  1. Protein and carbohydrate deficiencies impair neurogenesis, memory, and spatial learning
  2. Protein and carbohydrate supplementation improves cognition in older children, more than carbohydrate supplementation alone
  3. Maternal undernutrition and low protein intake in child can cause cognitive impairment later in adulthood
  4. Higher maternal intake of n-3 EFA during pregnancy can improve cognitive, behavioural, and psychomotor outcomes of children
  5. Diets rich in foods high in fat and sugar can impair cognitive development
  6. Breakfast can improve cognitive performance of undernourished school children
  7. Breakfast with a low glycemic index can benefit memory
  8. Protein intake may benefit memory
  9. High saturated fat intake may impair memory, and it may lead to dementia later in life