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Infographic: Nutrition for mental health

By Stephen DANIELLS , 25-Jul-2013
Last updated on 25-Jul-2013 at 14:40 GMT

Scroll down for the infographic
Scroll down for the infographic

With the human brain making up only 2% of our body weight, but accounting for at least 25% of our metabolic demands, it is no wonder that nutrition plays such a key role in mental health.

The World Health Organization has said that, “Mental health is an integral part of health; indeed, there is no health without mental health”.

The folks at bestmastersincounseling.com compiled the infographic that follows this text using multiple sources outlining some key stats and information about the role of nutrition for brain health.

Under its list of nutrients to fight aging and help memory, the infographic lists folic acid, vitamin B12, selenium, and antioxidants, with flavonoids in particular emphasized.

Omega-3

The potential brain benefits of omega-3 fatty acids have been reported numerous times.

Recent results from scientists at the University of Oxford indicated that blood levels of DHA and other omega-3s are directly related to measures of cognition and behavior in schoolchildren with below average reading ability.

Data from 493 British schoolchildren also showed that the levels were also low relative to adult cardiovascular health recommendations, report researchers from the Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention at the University of Oxford.

“The finding that low-Omega-3 LC-PUFA, and DHA in particular, predict behavior and learning problems in this large sample of healthy, but underperforming children attending mainstream schools suggests that the benefits from dietary supplementation found in ADHD and related conditions may extend to a wider population,” they wrote in the journal PLOS ONE.

“This question can only be addressed by well-powered intervention studies, but meanwhile, the low blood Omega-3 status found across this sample would indicate that an increased dietary intake might be beneficial on general health grounds.”

According to bestmastersincounseling.com , “Omega-3s have an effect on the production of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals responsible for moods) including dopamine and serotonin… [They also] s upport synapses in the brain to boost learning and memory.”

Gut health

Beyond the whole foods listed in the infographic, a burgeoning body of science has indicated that altering the microbial populations in the gut can have a positive impact. Indeed, a recent study from Danone and UCLA indicated that daily consumption of a fermented milk product containing five different probiotic strains may affect the parts of the brain linked to emotion and sensation.

The study, published in Gastroenterology (doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2013.02.043), is said to be the first to show chronic intake of a fermented milk product with probiotics can alter brain activity in humans.

Commenting independently on the new study, Prof Glenn Gibson, a world-renowned expert in pre- and probiotics at the University of Reading in the UK, told us: "There is evidence that the gut to brain axis exists, with positive and negative potential outcomes. However, modulating it like this is a big step forward."

Please click here to read: 'A big step forward': Probiotics may alter brain activity in healthy people, says Danone/UCLA data

The Nutrition of Mental Health
Image source: www.bestmastersincounseling.com

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