Importance Of Mental Health, Relationship Between Diet Quality And Mental/Brain Health

Diet And Quality Influences Mental/Brain Health

Are Diet and Mental/Brain Health Linked?

Mental disorders like depressions, anxiety, fear, etc. are not limited to the brain, but  it is also related to our our immune system and gut microbiota which affects mental health thus leading to overall well being.

Getting always confused with why we eat? and what we eat? Is it only for stomach fullness?

No!! Eating a right food with better nutritional value is advantageous and beneficial

People over consume the processed meat, junk foods, sugar sweetened beverages and high sodium and pepper intake over nutritious whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.

Around 11 million deaths were due diet related in 2017 and that only due to high consumption of sodium and low consumption of whole grains and nuts.
Depression and anxiety burden is highly presented in younger age people, that is at early adulthood. This burden is majorly caused due to diet or substance use disorders. that is poor diet. Hence poor diet has direct impact on mental health disorders.

We have always known that diet and nutrition is mostly linked to physical health. But diet and nutrition with mental and brain health in an amazing way.

Whole diet, containing omega-3 fatty acid or folate is highly impactful on mood.

What is quality Diet?

High intake and high variety of plant based foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
Moderate intake of a quality proteins such as seafood, lean meats and diary.
Low intake of highly processed foods.

What is Mental Health and Mental Disorder?

Its a state where an individual comes to know about his or her own potential and ability such that he or she can manage the normal stresses that comes to his or her life and work with ease and comfort to come out with great productivity and support the community in the way he or she can.

Common Mental Health and Brain Disorders:

  • Low mood, Mood Swings
  • Irritability and loss of interest
  • Body fatigue
  • Changes in appetite and sleep
  • Low participation in work and social activities
  • Anxiety and fear
  • Others like addictive disorders, Schizophrenia, Autism, Dementia.
Mental Health

Mental Health is affected by various factors:
  • Social factors
  • Environmental factors
  • Genetic factors
  • Biological factors
  • Developmental factors
  • Psychological factors
  • Lifestyle factors

Having proper diet affects the gut microbiota, particularly foods with high amount of fiber such as plant foods grains. vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds. These supports the growth of beneficial bacteria which impacts on the gut and overall health including mental health. Nutraceuticals like omega-3 fatty acid, vitamin D, S-adenosyl Methionine is helpful in reducing symptoms of depression.

Dietary changes is a key moderators for mental and brain health. This can be achieved by:

  • SMILES trial
  • ModiMed Diet
  • Making Successful Dietary Changes.


It was the first study in the world to demonstrate that the effectiveness of dietary changes in improving mental/brain health in a individual with clinically diagnosed depression.
Participants at the time of interventions were classified to know moderate to severe major depressive disorder and poor dietary intake.

Two different groups were allotted: 

  • Dietary Support Group: Received personalized dietary recommendation by regular consumption under guidance with a trained dietitian.

  • Social Support Group: Provided regular meeting with trained personnel to discuss topics of interest such as music, sports or play games together.


After two weeks, due to dietary support there occurred greater improvement in mental health and around 32% participants achieved full remission from depression as compared to social support.

NOTE: There was no weight change in either group as this was not a weight loss diet, but diet focused on improving nutritional quality.

ModiMed Diet

ModiMed Diet examined the link between Mediterranean diet and health. It modified the traditional Mediterranean diet by diet pyramid consisting of various food groups like eggs, poultry, fish, lean meat, legumes (alcohol not more than one or two drinks) and pulses, nuts, olive oil, dairy products, vegetables and fruits, whole grains cereals, extra virgin olive oil.

ModiMed diet provide 11000 KJ of energy per day with modified amount of protein(18% of energy) and Carbohydrates (36% of energy). The diet relatively high in fat, fiber and micro nutrients.

ModiMed diet is based on high intake of vegetables, whole grain cereals and fruits. 

Tips to follow the ModiMed Diet:

  • Select fruits, vegetables and nuts as a snack(30g of unsalted nuts daily).
  • Include vegetables with every meal especially leafy greens and tomatoes everyday.
  • Use sweets for special occasions only.
  • Choose water as the best drink.

ModiMed Diet is not weight change diet. Hence participants are asked to eat according to their appetite. This trial focus on the inclusion of a wide variety of nutritious, easy and tasty meals and snacks that would impact diet quality and facilitate long term behavioral change.

Barrier: Most believe that healthy foods cost much high. But SMILES trial study analyzed that healthy diet actually cost less than low quality diet. Also compare to treatment based on social support, dietary treatment is highly cost-effective.

Making Successful Dietary Change

For a successful dietary change everyone needs ability and readiness. Hence, a behavioral changes comes into practice which keeps positive mental health. Steps for this are:

πŸ‘Precontemplation Stage (Not Ready)

Individual is not ready to invest time and resources. Hence, awareness is increased to build motivation for future change.

πŸ‘Contemplation Stage( Getting Ready)

Individual become likely aware of risk and benefits associated with diet quality and mental health. Hence, initiation of change occurs.

πŸ‘Preparation Stage(Ready)

Individual at this stage, takes proactive steps for behavioral change or perhaps engage in behavioral change. Helps to build further capacity for change.

πŸ‘Action Stage

Individual builds confidence for ability to change. This stage is susceptible to change. Continuous support is provided for positive change and overcome barriers. More learning is provided.

πŸ‘Maintenance Stage

There is increase in confidence and self-efficacy. Relapses in behavior are less likely than in action change. This stage is equivalent to life-long dietary behaviors.

Lastly optimism and positive thinking are key factors to successful dietary change. Positivity in mental health inducing positive thinking, self-esteem. and positive inter personnel interactions are the key factors to protect good mental health.
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