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By On February 21st, 2019

Your diet may put you at risk for mental illness according to new study

Everyone knows that what you eat plays a huge role in your physical health, but a new study indicates it may also be a big factor in your mental health.

According to the report published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, people who maintained a less healthy diet were significantly more likely to report symptoms of moderate to severe psychological distress.

Notably, this held true even when taking into account issues like gender, education, age, marital status, or socioeconomic status.

For the study, a team of researchers from Loma Linda University reviewed data from over 240,000 telephone surveys conducted between 2005 and 2015 as part of the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS). This survey examines a wide range of issues while also collecting data about socio-economic demographics, current health status, and health behaviors.

Based on the data, the researchers say that almost 17% of California adults are likely to experience some form of mental illness, with 13.2% meeting the criteria for moderate psychological distress and 3.7% reporting severe psychological distress.

While the research is one of the first American studies to come to this conclusion, lead author Jim E. Banta, Ph.D., M.P.H., says other studies have found similar links between diet and mental health.

Specifically, high sugar consumption has been tied with bipolar disorder, while fried foods and foods containing high amounts of sugar or processed grains have been associated with depression.

“This and other studies like it could have big implications for treatments in behavioral medicine,” said Banta, who is an associate professor at Loma Linda University School of Public Health. “Perhaps the time has come for us to take a closer look at the role of diet in mental health, because it could be that healthy diet choices contribute to mental health. More research is needed before we can answer definitively, but the evidence seems to be pointing in that direction.”

At the same time, Banta cautioned not to read to much into the latest research as it was not able to determine a direct causal relationship.

Still, the team believes the report provides “additional evidence that public policy and clinical practice should more explicitly aim to improve diet quality among those struggling with mental health.”

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