You Are—And Your Mood Is—What You Eat
By Heidi Anne Duerr, MPH | May 23, 2013
It’s time to send your patients to the “Farm-acy,” Drew Ramsey, MD, told attendees at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting. Ramsey, assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, was one of several speakers at the standing room only workshop “Prescription Brain Food: From Bench to Table.”
The brain, Ramsey explained, needs to be nourished; he noted it consumes about 420 calories a day. To function properly, the brain requires omega-3 fatty acids, folate, fiber, choline, iron, zinc, and vitamins B12, D, and E among other nutrients. So can a patient’s diet affect their mood and mental (in addition to physical) well-being?
Similarly, Ramsey told attendees about a study comparing a diet high “whole” foods (eg, high in vegetables, fruits and fish) with a diet high processed foods.2 Tasnime N. Akbaraly, PhD, and colleagues found that those who most closely followed the whole foods diet had lower odds of depression as measured by the Center for Epidemiologic Studies – Depression scale (odds ratio = 0.74) while those who had ate diets high in processed foods had increased odds of developing depression (OR = 1.58). This could have great clinical implications, Ramsey explained, since patients with psychiatric disorders often don’t eat properly.
The diet-mood link seems to be evident across the lifecycle, he added. Ramsey shared findings from a study of 7,114 adolescents aged 10-14 years.3 Participants completed dietary questionnaires, which were then used to determine healthy and unhealthy diet quality scores. The Short Mood and Feelings Questionnaire was used to measure depression. Once again, this study found an inverse relationship between good, healthy eating and the development of depression. Indeed, adolescents with higher unhealthy diet scores had a 79% increased risk of depression, Ramsey noted.