Diet and Mental Health

Amy Loughman*, Heidi M. Staudacher, Tetyana Rocks, Anu Ruusunen, Wolfgang Marx, Adrienne O'neil, Felice N. Jacka

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


There is accumulating evidence from observational and intervention studies in nutritional psychiatry regarding the importance of diet for mental health outcomes across the lifespan. Here, we synthesise this evidence, including findings from large meta-analyses showing cross-sectional and prospective associations between diet quality and mental health, even following adjustment for relevant confounding factors. Potential mechanistic pathways underpinning these associations include those of the gut-brain axis, demonstrated mostly in animal models. Dietary fibre is an important component of healthy diet and may be relevant for common mental disorders, with some studies showing a dose-dependent relationship between fibre intake and risk of depression. The potential contribution of nutraceuticals is also discussed, such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and psychobiotics. We consider the relevance of special diets such as the ketogenic diet and food sensitivities in the management of severe mental illness (e.g., anorexia nervosa) and brain disease (e.g., Alzheimer's disease). Given the relatively early nature of research in nutritional psychiatry, there remain a number of challenges to its translation into clinical practice. These span individual, clinical, and societal domains. We conclude with a discussion of micro- and macroeconomic factors which may be considered in the successful application of nutritional psychiatry research to improve public health.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMicrobes and the Mind: The Impact of the Microbiome on Mental Health
EditorsCaitlin S. M. Cowan, Brian E. Leonard
PublisherKarger Publishers
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-318-06856-6
ISBN (Print)978-3-318-06855-9
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameModern trends in psychiatry
PublisherS Karger AG
ISSN (Print)2504-0464


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