Food and Behaviour Research

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The Role of Nutrition in Developmental and Mental Health Disorders

Chy Sawel

Web URL: View this video on Vimeo (you will receive the password when you join as an Associate Member)

Start Date: 16 October 2021

End Date: 16 October 2021

Duration 1 hour 10 mins

The Role of Nutrition in Developmental and Mental Health Disorders: Evidence-Based Dietary Interventions to Improve Mood, Behaviour and Cognition

Dr Alex Richardson, Founder Director, Food And Behaviour Research; and Visiting Senior Research Scientist at the University of Oxford

Mental health disorders account for a greater burden of ill health in the UK and other developed countries than heart disease and cancer combined; and this burden continues to increase, with huge numbers of those affected unable to access effective support or treatments.  The causes of mental ill-health are complex and multi-factorial, involving biological, psychological, socio-economic and cultural factors that all interact.  The diagnoses used in psychiatry, however (and required to access many mental health services) are essentially descriptive. Because despite significant advances in our knowledge and understanding in recent decades from genetic, biochemical, pharmacological and neuroscientific research into ‘brain disorders’, there are still no reliable objective markers for these diagnoses.

What has become very clear is that nutrition and diet play a fundamental role not only in physical health and development, but also in the development and functioning of our brains and nervous systems – and that both brain and body health are intrinsically connected.  Nutrition and diet also operate at all levels - biological, psychological, socio-economic and cultural. And most important, they are modifiable - provided that people have access to the information and resources they need to make the appropriate dietary changes (which will differ between individuals).

This presentation will provide:

1)      An overview summary of findings from the latest research into the role of nutrition in neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders, particularly ADHD, ASD, anxiety, depression and psychosis, covering:

  • The links between gut health, immune function, metabolism and brain health
  • The relevance to brain function of dietary intakes of: sugar and ‘carbs’ (including fibre); fats (particularly omega-3); vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients; and ‘anti-nutrients’ or toxins
  • the potential benefits - and risks - of both common dietary patterns and specific nutritional interventions

2)      A framework of evidence-based guidelines for parents/carers and practitioners to evaluate nutritional and dietary approaches to the management of these conditions.