The Links Between Diet and Behaviour
The influence of nutrition on mental health
Government advisors recommend ‘food for the brain’ campaign
A significant contributor to the increasing rate of crime, aggression, depression and poor school performance is poor nutrition. That’s the conclusion of the inquiry held by the Parliamentary Food and Health Forum, who issue a report urging for government to fund a campaign to research, increase awareness, and encourage us to eat more fish and whole foods, high in essential fats, vitamins and minerals.
The Parliamentary Food and Health Forum want more money spent on researching the link between diet, nutritional supplements and mental health; doctors to be better educated; mental health patients to be checked for nutritional deficiencies as a first line procedure on the NHS; and government funded healthy breakfast clubs at schools; government campaigns promoting the importance of optimum nutrition for mental health.
Patrick Holford, director of the educational charity, Food for the Brain says: “Less than half a percent of all money for medical research is spent on nutrition largely because there are no patented, profitable drugs at the end of it. Most doctors today have virtually no training in this area and simply don’t know that improving diet and supplementing specific nutrients often works as well, if not better than drugs for treating depression and mental illness. We welcome this report, which fairly and squarely recommends that government should put more money where our mouths are."
“We desperately need funding to follow through on extremely promising preliminary studies that suggest that optimum nutrition can improve behaviour, academic performance and reverse symptoms of depression and even schizophrenia”. The Food for the Brain website, www.foodforthebrain.org, provides free on-line advice for those with mental health concerns.
“Our results are extremely encouraging.” says Mary-Ann Munford, former NHS Primary Care Trust CEO, now director of the charity’s outpatient clinic, the Brain Bio Centre in London, which is pioneering nutrition-based treatments for ADHD, depression, schizophrenia and dementia. “I’m convinced that an optimum nutrition approach is a vital, and often ignored, piece of the equation for reversing most of the prevalent mental health disorders GPs see on a daily basis.”
Recent research has reported:
• Children with learning and behaviour problems improve focus, concentration and school grades when given essential fat supplements; and IQ scores when given multivitamins.
• Eating breakfast and a low glycaemic load (GL) diet, low in sugar, improves behaviour and concentration.
• Supplementing essential fats improves depression.
• Supplementing B vitamins improves depression and symptoms of schizophrenia, and stops or slows down memory decline in older people.
“Optimum nutrition is a forgotten factor in mental health today” says Professor David Smith, chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Food for the Brain Foundation and Emeritus Professor at Oxford University.
“The Associate Parliamentary Food and Health Forum” launched this report on 30 January 2008 following a year long inquiry into the links between diet, mental health and behaviour.