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  • Sam DiFranco

The Chicken or the Egg?


The age old question that still seems to baffle everyone. Well, which came first?

When it comes to eating and mental health, do mental health issues influence what people eat, or does what you eat affect your mental health? Rif El-Mallakh, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, states that although there is a correlation it remains unclear how diet relates to mental health.

A theory is that certain foods, or their absence, may contribute to poor mental health. For example, studies in people and in rats have linked zinc deficiency to depression. As shown in animal and human studies, poor diet can even impair memory and attention within a week. Gut bacteria might actually be a middleman in this theory, and studies have shown that changing diet can change human gut bacteria. However, changing one’s diet and gut bacteria does not cure mental illness. We are not at a point to be able to use diet as therapy, because we just don’t know enough yet. A full package of care, including medical and mental health care, is encouraged as it is an evidenced based method to battling mental illness.

Think your diet may be influencing your mental health? Don’t hesitate!

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