A new book explores the idea that what we eat can impact brain function at every stage of life
THE TELEGRAPH – What if, instead of starting with your stress levels, work and relationships, a therapist asked you what you had for lunch?
Nutrition is a “central yet overlooked and ignored underlying factor in our rising rates of mental illness”, says Kimberley Wilson, a clinical psychologist with a degree in nutrition, in her new book, Unprocessed.
There are other factors at play, but what we eat is a crucial ingredient.
“The brain is a physical organ… nutrition isn’t the be all or end all, but it’s going to be a contributing factor to how well your brain is functioning,” she says.
Think the US is any better? “Americans spend 18% of all fast-food spending worldwide on their favorite fast-food restaurants.” – BILLPIN.COM, January 30, 2023
The idea that your diet affects your brain is not ground-breaking. But Wilson argues that what we eat not only has an impact on our mood, but affects our brain function at every stage of life: from before life begins, in pregnancy, to reducing the impact of cognitive decline in old age.
“The nutrients you ingest influence the structure of your brain, the production of brain chemicals that create your mood, and the speed at which your brain ages,” she writes.
“Yet if you go to your doctor for help with a mental-health issue, you’re more likely to be asked about your relationship with your mother than what you had for breakfast.”
Her book includes examples of how this affects brain health throughout life: “If a mother doesn’t eat enough of the right fats during pregnancy, her baby’s brain is smaller and less well connected.”
In adulthood: “Just a few days on a diet of high-sugar, high-fat, ultra-processed foods leads to measurable impairment in learning, memory and appetite control.”
“Americans spent more than $200 billion on fast food in 2021. The average American spends $70,000 in their lifetime. On any given day, 50 million Americans consume fast food. ” – BILLPIN.COM, January 30, 2023
Ultra-processed food (UPF) is to blame
Rates of mental illness in the UK have been rising steadily for 30 years. One in six children aged five-16 now have a probable mental-health disorder. Wilson at least partly pins the blame for this on ultra-processed food (UPF) …