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Anxiety, depression: this type of diet would have a negative impact on the brain and mental health

  • June 7, 2024
  • 6 Min
  • 6

Across the world, 284 million people are estimated to suffer anxiety disorders, and 264 million depressed, according to figures from Public Health France. To take care of your mental health, there are different solutions. Among them, Health Insurance cites in particular the fact of stopping the consumption of stimulants such as alcohol or coffee, of sleeping well, of practicing regular physical activity or even of adopting A balanced diet.

Regarding the benefits of a healthy diet on mental health, a study published in May 2024 in the journal Nutrients notably highlighted the benefits of the Mediterranean diet on stress and anxiety. New work published in the magazine Nutritional Neuroscience also looked at this question, and more specifically at the links between diet quality, the brain, and mental health.

Links between diet, brain and mental health explored in study

The researchers started from the following premise: common mental disorders such as anxiety and the Depression may be associated with brain alterations. Moreover, “improvement in the symptomatology of common mental disorders was observed in people who adhered to high-quality diets”it is written in the study.

As part of this research, scientists were therefore interested in the links between food quality, the brain and mental health. To do this, 30 volunteers were divided into two groups: the first had to adopt a diet described as qualitatively “low”, and the second a diet qualitatively “high”. All participants then underwent an examination to visualize the brain tissue.

Poor diet leads to brain changes linked to anxiety and depression

Result: volunteers who had adopted a low-quality diet presented “reduced concentrations of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and elevated glutamate (GLU) (neurotransmitters) in the medial prefrontal cortex, as well as reduced gray matter volume in the right precentral gyrus”, it is written. The study also specifies that a significant association between the increase in la rumination – often linked to anxiety – and the reduction in gray matter volume has been observed.

In other words, “People who eat an unhealthy diet – high in sugar and saturated fat – have an imbalance between excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission, as well as a reduced volume of gray matter in the frontal part of the brain”summarizes Dr Piril Hepsomali, main author of the study, in a press release from the University of Reading, before adding that “this part of the brain is involved in mental health problems such as depression and anxiety“.

A poor-quality diet could thus lead to brain changes associated with depression and anxiety. Another reason to adopt a varied and balanced diet!

Poor quality diet makes our brains sad. Eat yourself well!

— Reading Uni News (@UniRdg_News) June 5, 2024

Sources :

  • Adherence to unhealthy diets is associated with altered frontal gamma-aminobutyric acid and glutamate concentrations and grey matter volume: preliminary findings – Nutritional Neuroscience – 24/05/24
  • Poor quality diet makes our brains sad – University of Reading – 05/06/24
  • Living with anxiety disorders (severe anxiety) – Health insurance
  • Depression and anxiety – Public Health France
author avatar
Anais Chabalier