Last week I went along to a seminar by FAB research: feeding better behaviour, learning and mood: the gut, brain and nutrition connection. Being a member of the Association for Nutrition allows me to attend seminars like this and they are usually ones that haven’t been on my radar. This means that I always end up learning about something I didn’t really know anything about, and this one was no different.
There were two great speakers, each presented two talks – Dr Alex Richardson, senior research fellow at the Centre for Evidence Based Intervention, and David Rex RD, specialist dietician in health and social care at Highland Council.
Mental health problems are on the increase and they often come hand in hand with physical health disorders. Nutrition plays a large role in both of these disorders, due to the complex links between our gut, brain and immune system. FAB research presented the latest scientific evidence on how food can influence mood, behaviour and learning, delving into both the diets of children and adults.
It’s hard to summarise 2 and a half hours of scientific evidence but here are a couple of take home messages that stuck in my head:
- 1/3 of cancers are attributed to poor diet
- 38% of Europeans have some kind of mental disorder
- Young offenders given dietary supplements showed a reduction in disciplinary incidents of 26% – their diet was supplemented with a multivitamin and fatty acid (Gesch et al, 2002 in Nutrition and Antisocial behaviour)
- Sugar covers up the other 4 tastes that our taste buds sense, so you can’t taste the negative aspects of food – used by food companies to make very salty or fatty food taste better
- Fructose required processing by the liver before its energy can be used, technically making it a toxin – there is no problem if consumed in fruit and vegetables because of the fibre content, but causes problems if consumed in excess outwith fruit and vegetables
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can be caused by too much sugar in the form of fructose, commonly from fizzy drinks
- Lustig, 2006 – consuming excess sugar can increase appetite and reduce, interfering with hormones that control appetite
- 500mg of EPA and DHA is needed for a healthy heart; 1000mg is needed for a healthy brain – EPA and DHA are essential fatty acids
- There is a spike in ADHD with low vitamin D levels and DHA influences sleep and behaviour in children
- Iron deficiency is associated with lower brain function
Lots to take in and lots to think about but the one thing to remember is…..EAT MORE OILY FISH!!!