Food and Behaviour Research

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CAPT Joseph Hibbeln, M.D.: Nutritional Armor - Brain and Behavior

Everyone who has observed people knows that their behavior and emotions can change radically when hungry. However, our brains are highly complex metabolic organs that need specific nutrients and not just calories for optimal neurodevelopment and lifelong function


For more information on the BRAVO study, please see:

2 April 2014 - TelIHMC on YouTube


Internationally recognized NIH scientist CAPT Joseph Hibbeln, M.D. takes stock of the impact on mental health of deficits and excesses of brain specific nutrients in our current diets that substantially reduce emotional distress in modern societies.

One in five children and one in four adults have mental disorders. Restoring historically normal intakes of omega-3 fatty acids can improve disruptive child behavioral problems including ADHD, by 40%, potentially reducing risk for a lifetime trajectory of disruptive behaviors.

Dr. Hibbeln's observation that the nutritional benefits of eating fish in pregnancy on higher IQ outweigh the small effect of trace mercury, is cited as foundational by The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, the World Health Organization and the FDA.

Dr. Hibbeln originated the field of omega-3 fats in depressive disorders and is currently assessing the efficacy of omega-3 fats for reducing suicidal behaviors among US Veterans as the Co-PI of the BRAVO (Better Resilience Among Veterans on Omega-3's) study.

Brain critical nutrients for US military personnel may reduce the burden of mental health and substance abuse problems and increase their reliance to stress. Current diets of our poorest citizens may be especially impoverished in critical brain nutrients and impairing full utilization of educational and social opportunities.