The current UK dietary guidelines, the Eatwell Guide1 is designed to promote a healthy diet. The Guide is generally thought of in association with physical health, however, it can also be used by practitioners to promote good mental well being. The link between diet and mental health is established, with varying levels of evidence for specific nutrients and whole diets affecting mental health in children and adults.2
Dietary pattern analysis is concerned with the usual diet quality and nutrient variety of a group of people,3 and this article looks at how this type of analysis is supporting the role of a healthy diet in brain health and the prevention of mental health problems and some of the difficulties with omega-3 single nutrient studies.
Nutrition and the brain
Like other organs of the body, the brain requires a range of nutrients to function properly, these include essential (meaning they can only be obtained from the diet) fatty acids, carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and vitamins such as B vitamins, vitamin C, folic acid, magnesium, selenium and zinc and water.2
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