Here at Truehope, we’ve been saying for over 20 years that nutrition and mental health are tightly linked, and improving nutrition can improve mental health.
Related to that is the idea that poor nutrition can lead to poor mental health.
Several peer-reviewed studies have shown that consuming high amounts of junk food can negatively affect our mental health. Here are 3 studies showing how junk food affects mental health in 4 areas: depression, stress, ADHD and general mental health.
Depression and stress
British researchers had over 3,700 students at 7 universities in England, Northern Ireland, and Wales self administer health questionnaires. They found that among those who ate sweets, cookies, snacks, and fast food, females were more likely to report increased stress compared to those who didn’t eat those foods. Females and males who ate these unhealthy foods were more likely to report depressive symptoms that those who didn’t eat these foods.
Indian researchers split 50 children who had ADHD symptoms into two groups: a control group and a nutritional intervention group. During 6 sessions, researchers assessed their nutritional consumption and their ADHD symptom severity. They discovered that reducing chocolate, refined wheat flour, baked sweets, soft drinks, and junk food consumption was connected to a reduction in ADHD symptoms.
General mental health
Iranian researchers studied data of nearly 13,500 students and found a significant association between junk food consumption (specifically soft drinks, sweet snacks, and salty snacks) and psychiatric distress (worry, depression, confusion, insomnia, anxiety, aggression, and worthless).
This is yet more research to a growing, strong body of studies that show a significant connection between what we consume and our mental health.