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Studies link poor diets to mental health problems

Your recent focus on complementary approaches to mental health is to be commended. One important variable that is often overlooked is maintaining a healthy lifestyle in terms of food, exercise and sleep.

For instance, the brain uses 20% of the energy from the food we eat, and needs a broad spectrum of nutrients to function properly.

When depressed or anxious, many people comfort-eat sugar and fast foods, or turn to cigarettes and alcohol, neglecting cooking and self-care. They deprive their brain and nervous system of essential nutrition when it is needed most.

Many studies have linked nutrient-deficient modern diets, loaded with caffeine, sugar, processed foods and alcohol, to mental health problems.

As a counsellor, I find that encouraging clients to adopt a healthy lifestyle, including eating well, getting regular exercise and sleeping enough, can greatly alleviate distressing emotional and psychological symptoms.

More information can be found at Food and Behaviour Research (www.fabresearch.org)

Maeve Halpin


Dublin 6


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