Diet quality may improve adolescent attention capacity

Earlier this year, European researchers published a study in the British Journal of Nutrition, showing a connection between what we eat and our attention capacity.

The researchers recruited nearly 400 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 from Spain, Germany, France, Austria, and Sweden. They examined their attention capacity and assessed their dietary intake.

What they discovered is that those adolescents with healthier dietary patterns (specifically higher diet quality and higher ideal diet scores) were more likely to have a higher attention capacity than those with poor diet quality.

One interesting finding from the study is that analyzing general dietary patterns is more important in determining connections to attention capacity than single nutrients or single foods:

our finding suggests that examining the diet as a whole – that is, in terms of dietary patterns – is a stronger determinant of attention capacity than examining single nutrients/foods, agreeing with a previous study on diet and cognitive performance in children.

They offered 3 possible explanations for this.

1. Effects may be too small

“The effect of single nutrients/foods on health may be too small to detect, whereas the combined effect of several nutrients/foods may be large enough to be detectable.”

2. Macronutrients may be measure more precisely

“Variables related to the overall diet, such as macronutrient intakes, may be measured more precisely than single micronutrients, which may also be the case for dietary patterns.”

3. Nutrients may act synergistically

“Nutrients/food in a dietary pattern may also act in a synergistic manner to influence health. Hence, dietary patterns may offer a more holistic description of dietary habits than single nutrients/foods.”

This further underscores the discovery from a growing list of clinical studies showing a connection between mental health and nutrition.

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