Most people accept that what we eat affects our overall sense of wellbeing: when we eat better, we feel better. But research is increasingly showing that the change in modern diet is contributing to mental health issues in many countries. More and more medical and therapeutic trials and research projects are taking place to find out how and why. In two generations, the nature of what we eat, certainly in the Western world, has undergone rapid change. The focus for many people now is on convenience not nutrition. Foods that are highly processed, with far fewer nutrients and laden with calories, are being consumed in ever higher quantities. And food has become big business: companies that peddle convenience foods make billions. But even for those of us who eat healthily (at least most of the time), with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables – or are making efforts to eat this way – the news can be alarming. The level of nutrients in fruits and vegetables has become severely depleted over recent years due to modern agricultural methods and depletion of soil quality.
More studies are being initiated all the time, many now with a focus on the most prized type of scientific evidence, that of controlled trials. Once these studies are completed and their findings released, there will be a much more indisputable link between diet and mental health. But even now, with the evidence at hand, The Lancet released a statement earlier this year that said diet is “as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology, endocrinology and gastroenterology”.