It has suggested that the diets of people with mental health disorders are lacking in key nutrients for brain health. In this regard, nutritional treatment may contribute to prevent, treatment, or improvement of various psychiatric disorders. Accordingly the scientific community is ultimately starting to understand the association between food and brain health/mental health. Some psychiatrists now use nutrition as part of the treatment strategy for various mental health conditions.
It has emerged that nutrition act as an important factor in the high prevalence and incidence of psychiatric disorders. This suggests that nutrition and food is as crucial to mental health as it is to gastroenterology, endocrinology and cardiology. One clinical trial in 2017 suggested that dietary support could improve patients with depression. Therefore, diet quality may be a modifiable risk factor for mental illness.
Dietary patterns and Biological pathways
Dietary patterns may modulate various biological pathways. These pathways including oxidative stress, the gut–brain axis and inflammation could impact on the mental illness. For example, probiotics and prebiotics might modify the microbiota–gut–brain diet axis. They perform this act directly by influencing on the microbial populations. Several clinical trials investigated on the effects of probiotic supplements for stress, mood, anxiety, schizophrenic symptoms and externalizing behaviors in autism spectrum disorder. The results of these studies demonstrated that probiotic supplementation might improve these mental illnesses.
Inflammatory and antioxidant diets
Increased risk of depression likely is associated with typical inflammatory western diet containing sugary drinks, refined grains, fried food, processed meat, high-fat diary, and sweets. Anti-inflammatory fats such as omega-3s from foods like wild salmon, and monounsaturated fats from avocado and extra virgin olive oil might decrease depression risk along with blood markers for inflammation. There is also possibly association between particular antioxidants, including flavonoids (found in berries, beans, citrus, and apples) and improvement of depressive symptoms.
In conclusion, nutritional psychiatry diets are characterized by the high intake of vegetables, fruit, whole-grains, nuts, seeds and ﬁsh, with limited processed foods. In contrast, unhealthy diets high in processed, high-fat, high-sugar foods in adolescence and adulthood are shown to be positively associated with the common mental disorders, depression and anxiety.