Commentary: Angsty and irritable? It could be your poor diet

Three published analyzes from the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey and the 2018 US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey revealed these factual statistics:

In Canada, in 2004, 48 percent of calories intake across all ages came from ultra-processed products; In the United States, 67 percent of what children ages 2 to 19 and 57 percent of what adults consumed in 2018 were ultra-processed products.

Most of us are aware that nutritional intake is a major problem in physical health because diet quality is associated with chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The public is less aware of the impact of nutrition on brain health.

Micronutrients and mental health symptoms

Given that our society’s nutritional choices have moved aggressively toward ultra-processed products, we need to recognize the substantial scientific evidence that micronutrient intake affects mental health symptoms, particularly irritability, explosive anger, and unstable moods.

The scientific evidence base for this statement is now extensive, although it is so rarely mentioned in the media that few in the public know about it.

Dozens of studies from countries like Canada, Spain, Japan and Australia have shown that people who eat a healthy, complete diet have fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety than people who eat poor diets (mostly ultra-processed products).

Correlational studies cannot prove that food choices are the cause of mental health problems.

So we turn to some compelling prospective longitudinal studies in which people without obvious mental health problems are entered, assessed in terms of their health and dietary patterns, and then followed up over time.

Some of the results were amazing.


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