How to improve mental health through better nutrition

How to improve mental health through better nutrition

The relationship between nutrition and mental health is two-way: the foods we eat affect our mental health, and our mental health affects what and how much we eat. This month, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) are teaming up to highlight the interdependence of nutrition and mental health. To learn more about how the public views food and mental health, APA conducted a survey between March 16-17, 2023 with a sample of 2,200 adults.

  • Two-thirds (66%) of adults surveyed said they felt well informed about the relationship between diet and mental health.
  • Four in five adults (81%) would change their diet in a way that would have a positive impact on mental health.
  • Four in ten (43%) would definitely change their diet to improve their mental health.

A growing body of research points to the benefits of healthy eating for mental health. Studies have identified particular benefits in treating depression, and several studies point to the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. A 2019 review published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that increased consumption of fruits and vegetables has a positive impact on psychological health, and that daily vegetable consumption has a therapeutic impact in reducing symptoms of depression in people with clinical depression. A National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine webinar presentation focusing on nutrition and mental health discussed how improving diet can improve depression. A healthy diet provides more vitamins and minerals, healthy fats and fiber from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, which may reduce inflammation and alter neurotransmitters to reduce symptoms of heart disease. the Depression.

A 2022 study published in Current developments in nutrition and led by ASN member Jessica Bayes, Ph.D., evaluated the effect of a Mediterranean diet in the treatment of moderate to severe depression in men aged 18-25. The Mediterranean diet, based on the eating habits of people in the Mediterranean region, includes more fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains and healthy fats (poly and monounsaturated fats found in olive oil, nuts and seeds). Study participants had all been diagnosed with major depressive disorder and were divided into a dietary intervention group and a control group for a 12-week parallel-group randomized controlled trial. The dietary intervention group received nutritional counseling and assistance with meal planning to adhere to the Mediterranean diet. The dietary intervention group showed significant improvements in depressive symptoms, with a mean reduction of 20.6 points on the Beck Depression Inventory Scale – version II, compared to a reduction of 6.2 points for the control group.

Foods to Eat for a Healthy Mind

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is one of the leading causes of poor health and disability worldwide. Understanding and managing mental health disorders is a public health issue. Research continues to deepen our understanding of the relationship between nutrition and the mind, and current evidence supports that diet plays a role in psychological health.

About the American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the nation’s oldest medical association. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 38,000 member physicians specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illness. The APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information, please visit

About the American Nutrition Society

In 2028, ASN will celebrate 100 years as the leading advocate of nutrition, publishing timely and important discoveries in basic, clinical and emerging nutritional sciences. The company’s publications, The Journal of Nutrition, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Advances in Nutrition and Current Developments in Nutrition are the leading journals in the field of nutrition. In addition to research reports, the journals enhance content by providing commentary and reviews written by leaders in the scientific community and special supplements on nutrition-related topics. ASN’s flagship annual meeting, Nutrition, brings together top researchers, practitioners, global and public health professionals, policy makers and advocacy leaders, industry, media and other related professionals come together to advance the science of nutrition and its practical application. ASN advocates for nutrition research and resources and working with Congress and federal agencies on issues that impact how nutrition scientists and clinicians conduct their research or treat their patients. ASN also collaborates with organizations on common issues related to nutrition to build coalitions and advance issues of mutual interest, such as this collaboration with the American Psychiatric Association. For more information, visit

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