I’m still absolutely amazed that the links between nutrients and mental health are still considered to be novel. Every thing in your body and brain are made from the nutrients you get from your diet.
The major classes of drugs, some of which are aged over 50 years now, work on increasing the amount of the following neurotransmitters (NTs), serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline (norepinephrine). Typically these drugs work about 60% of the time.
The raw materials required to build those NTs are listed on to the far right and left of the infographic and include:
Vitamin B1, B2, Zinc, B6 (P5P), Folate (5MTHF), Calcium and B3, Vitamin C, Magnesium, SAMe (methionine), Copper & Iron.
Of those, B1, B2, zinc, B6, SAMe, copper, calcium and iron are delivered to us in abundance and in the most bio-available forms by animal products. Liver is also high in folate and contains vitamin C.
Nuts and seeds offer us higher amounts of magnesium and leafy greens are a good source of folate when not over cooked. However, bioavailability is in question here, especially when talking non heme iron found in green leafy veg.
Vitamin C is found in abundance in fruits and vegetables, better to choose lower carbohydrate ones do to the competing access into cells between vitamin C and glucose.
The other important ingredients are seen in the central part of the infographic, these include amino acids. The best source of amino acids are animals products once again. The amino acid profile in fruits and veg are not comparable and those protein powders that are made from them do not offer such a rich amino acid profile and may in fact strip minerals from the body as part of their assimilation.
The article starts well with the mention of oysters, a fantastic food for mental health because of their nutrients. It then goes on to talk about fruit and vegetables like they are the gold standard of nutrition for this concern, when in fact they fall short in many areas.
The reasons higher consumption of fruits and vegetables are associated with better mental health in epidemiological studies is because someone who eats more F&V are typically more concerned about their health than those that don’t. Therefore they may exercise more, deal with stress, not smoke etc etc.
The other major factor is that when one eats more F&V less junk is consumed. Junk food is a disaster for mental health because it actually depletes the body of micronutrients which is precisely the opposite of what food should offer.
I’m relieved to see omega 3 mentioned. DHA is the most abundant omega 3 fat found in the brain and is quite rightly found in fish, the other very good source is the brain itself but nutritious foods like this are too yucky for our spoilt society so it goes to the dogs.
Towards the end of the article a begrudging statement about not going completely plant based is added.
So, the foods that offer every single nutrient required for the construction of NTs and the structure and function of cells in the brain -only magnesium in low amounts- are found in animal produce.
Yet the advice is, as always, eat less meat. This is a dangerous trend pushed on us by those vested industries and it will cost us dear. Those with mental health issues will suffer the most if they believe that the answers lie in the bottom of a bowl of salad.