Why what you eat is so important for mental health
10th October is World Mental Health Day and it’s a good opportunity to talk about the importance of mental health. Read our latest blog from Alicia Weston, Bags of Taste CEO.
This year’s theme set by the World Federation for Mental Health is ‘Make mental health and well-being for all a global priority’. Read more at https://wfmh.global/
Statistics show one in four adults in the UK have at least one diagnosable mental health problem in a given year. This is 3x higher if people are on benefits than if they’re not, and 5x higher if they’re on a disability allowance.
Since 2010, evidence has emerged that quality of diet is linked to clinical depressive and anxiety disorders (Felice Jacka), and also that poor quality diets increased the risk of developing these conditions over time. In the following 10 years a large, consistent and comprehensive evidence base has accumulated supporting these observations.
If people have a healthier diet quality, their risk of developing depression seems to be reduced by about 30%. This was confirmed by the SMILES trial which showed that a third of participants with severe depression went into complete remission as a result of changing their diet, and that this was ‘dose-dependent’, i.e. the amount they improved their diet was closely related to their mental health improvement. This was within 3 months!
Evidence is now emerging also about the gut microbiome and the gut-brain axis. We already know that gut disorders like IBS are closely related to depression and anxiety and we also know that ultra-processed foods are linked with these disorders.
Bags of Taste’s dietary change course is proven to improve the diets of people on low incomes, which is very closely linked to poor mental health.
One of our key outcomes is that we significantly improve diets and reduce consumption of ultra-processed foods. This has been independently assessed by nutritionists in a long term follow up study. In addition, our courses are designed for those most at risk of mental health conditions – those on very low incomes facing numerous other challenges (e.g. debt) in their lives – itself a risk factor for poor mental health.
If you are an organisation supporting people with mental health problems working in one of our areas (see our locations under Join a Course), get in touch and let’s see how we can work together.
You can read more about this in Felice Jacka’s paper on the SMILES trial research.
Food and mood: how do diet and nutrition affect mental wellbeing?
How diet can affect your mental well-being