Mood food - research finds a strong link between certain foods and mental health

Related tags Mental health Nutrition

A survey carried out in Britain finds that certain food can improve
mental health. The findings reported at a conference in London this
week show that almost 90 per cent of people studied saw significant
improvements in mood swings, panic attacks and depression.

Eating certain foods can improve mental health, suggests a survey of 200 people carried out in Britain.

Researchers said that 88 per cent of those studied reported that changing their diet improved their mental health significantly. Twenty six per cent said they had seen large improvements in mood swings, 26 per cent in panic attacks and anxiety and 24 per cent in depression, according to a report on the study by BBC Health.

The survey by the Food and Mood Project was backed by the mental health charity Mind, which has previously found a link between food and mood. Findings were presented to a conference in London this week.

The participants said that cutting down on food 'stressors' and increasing the amount of 'supporters' they eat helped to improve their mood. Stressors were foods such as sugar (80 per cent), caffeine (79 per cent), alcohol (55 per cent) and chocolate (53 per cent). Supporters included water (80 per cent), vegetables (78 per cent), fruit (72 per cent) and oil-rich fish (52 per cent).

Eating regularly and not skipping breakfast were also highlighted as ways to boost mental health, noted the report. Around a third of people studied said they were 'very certain' that the improvements they had seen to their mental health were directly linked to the changes they had made to their diet.

One participant reported:: "There is a definite link with food and mood, but I do lapse and then I do I feel noticeably different. Once you find out your triggers you can feel so much better."

Amanda Geary, who wrote a report based on the survey's findings, told BBC News Online: "This survey shows that for these people, there were quite strong findings in terms of the association between the dietary changes they made and the benefits they were reporting. A lot of these changes are very simple things that people can do and are fairly safe, and concur with healthy eating advice."

While admitting that the survey was entirely subjective, Geary said: "I hope that these findings will add strength to a growing body of evidence to encourage health care providers and individuals to learn from the powerful testimonies in this report that the health of the body can directly influence the health of the mind."

Richard Brook, chief executive of Mind, told the BBC: "At a simple level we all know certain foods are good for us or can affect our mood. However, linking real information and evidence with effective ways of using it can be a really efficient tool in managing your mental health. In the last 12 months I have personally heard many accounts of how people are managing their own recovery partly by using some of the concepts behind the food and mood approach."

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