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Food and Mood: how eating affects your mental health

We instinctively know that what you eat can boost your mood, but now the science is showing the true extent to which diet impacts depression and anxiety.

One silver lining of lockdown is that it has brought talk of mental health, particularly depression, into the general conversation. And what is becoming increasingly evident is the role that food has in warding off depression and anxiety.

Professor Felice Jacka is the leading expert in the link between mental health and nutrition and is the president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research. She discusses the wealth of research which demonstrates the link between diet and the growth of the hippocampus.

Many people found that cooking helped boost their mood in lockdown - evident from the shortages of baking ingredients on our shelves. Writer and comedian Katy Brand tells Sheila that she finds cooking gives her a sense of control and helps alleviate stress.

Kimberley Wilson is unusual among chartered psychologists because she also holds a masters degree in nutrition. When her clients come to her with depression and anxiety one of the first things she does is talk to them about what they eat. She thinks that although we have readily accepted the idea that we need to eat good food to look after other organs in our body, we are reluctant to see the connection to our brain’s health.

So if food is proved to be central to improving our mental health, how come GPs are unlikely to talk to you about it? Sheila talks to Dr Rupy Aujla, from the Doctor’s Kitchen, about why good nutrition is too often overlooked in the medical profession.

And Romy Gill discusses mental health struggles with fellow chefs Ellis Barrie and Anna Haugh. Chefs spend all day cooking for other people but all too often fail to feed themselves good food. In lockdown chefs have had a moment to reflect on the pressure of a professional kitchen and the impact this has on their mental health.

Presented by Sheila Dillon
Produced by Emma Weatherill

Available now

29 minutes


  • Sun 19 Jul 2020 12:32
  • Mon 20 Jul 2020 15:30

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