When Professor Felice Jacka first Started studying the effects of diet On mental wellbeing back in 2005, people thought she was, well, a bit angry.
“Suggesting That which we eat might influence how we believe was, to many, the domain of hippie-trippy, non-evidence-based belief instead of real medication,” says the Australian.
“Many appeared to have a disdain for the idea that diet might be of relevance to mental wellness.
“Back then there simply wasn’t much in the way of scientific evidence linking food and disposition.”
Jacka, One of the world’s greatest investigators in nutritional psychiatry, became interested in her field because of personal experience.
She developed an anxiety disorder as a child endured panic Attacks and spells of depression as a teenager growing up in Melbourne.
But she concentrated on her workout, diet and sleep — and by her late twenties had recovered.
Having Previously attended art school, Jacka chose to return to university to study psychology, completing a PhD that made such significant findings it looked on the cover of the American Journal of Psychiatry.
Its Biggest revelation was that women who consume diets high in veg, fruit, unprocessed red meat, fish and wholegrain, were less likely to suffer from depression or anxiety disorders than their counterparts who ate more commonly’western’ diets packaged with processed foods, like meat pies, burgers, pizza, chips, white bread and soft drinks.
Perhaps More surprising, however, was it demonstrated those whose diets revolve round fish, legumes, lentils, nuts, yoghurt and red wine also endured MORE depression.
(This turned out to be due to a lack of red meat. Contrary to all her predictions, further research Professor Jacka carried out revealed that girls who ate more red meat were 20-30 percent less likely to have a history of depressive anxiety disorder).
Jacka, Who is now manager of the Food & Mood Centre at Deakin University in Australia, as well as president and founder of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research, said:”When I investigated, I saw a very clear relationship between red meat consumption and mental health — although not in the direction I expected.”
Her study clearly demonstrated that”in comparison to women consuming The suggested quantity of red meat (65-100g three to four times every week), people eating either less or more than that have been roughly twice as likely to have a clinical depression or anxiety disorder.”
Since That first research paper, Professor Jacka has gone on to release more than 150 peer-reviewed scientific papers that have changed popular view on the causes of psychological ill health.
In 2015, for example, She discovered that, essentially, crap food aids our brain — or the left hippocampus (which, in part, regulates memory, emotion and mental health). “We found getting not enough of the fantastic stuff and too much of the bad stuff was problematic,” states Jacka.
But it Was her SMILES study (Supporting the Modification of lifestyle in Lowered Emotional States) published in 2017, which might prove life changing for anyone with mental health problems.
For the trial, men and women with clinical depression were assigned either a dietary aid group or societal aid.
“The Diet has been developed using everything we’d learned so far on the connections between diet, gut health and mental and mind health and has been based on both a traditional Mediterranean diet and the Australian dietary guidelines,” says Jacka.
“The group called it the ModiMed diet to indicate it was a modified version of a classic Mediterranean diet.
“It was especially intended to be simple to make and follow — and inexpensive.”
The Plan required eating more fruit, veg, whole grains, legumes, nuts, low-fat dairy, fish and lean meats while cutting back on processed junk food and alcohol. The results were astounding.
After three months A third of participants on the ModiMed diet had improved their psychological health enough to say their depression had gone into remission, compared to only 8% in the next, social aid group.
“Simply speaking, the more individuals improved their diets, the greater their depression improved,” she says.
Professor Jacka has now distilled her findings in the last 15 years of study into a new book — Brain Changer: How Diet Can Save Your Mental Health, complete with meal plans and recipes to get improved mental wellbeing.
She believes we ought to consider our meals as the basis of our mental and mind health during our lives.
“While We’ve been told for years that ultra-processed foods which are high in energy and harmful additives and low in fiber and nutrition will mean more sickness and premature death from chronic diseases, only recently have we understood the consequences for our psychological health and the health of our brains”
More importantly, unlike most risk factors of psychological Illness — such as your genes, misuse, significant trauma or physical causes like brain injuries — diet is something we can address .
“What we put in our mouths really things,” she says. “Do not be seduced by fast, cheap, tasty food — that the price you pay really Will not be well worth it.”