Kid's got the blues? Could something as simple as improving your child's diet improve their mood?
Some of Australia's leading researchers are encouraging parents to be aware of their children's diets. Professor, Felice Jacka thinks so. Felice is the Director of Deakin University's Food and Mood Centre and says helping our children eat their way out of their funk could be the answer to childhood mood disorders.
Presenting her innovative research at a recent forum run by Headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, Felice says nutritional psychiatry studies reveal a clear link between what we eat and how we feel.
The Food and Mood Centre acknowledges, "Childhood and adolescence are critical windows of development; during this time, many psychiatric conditions emerge for the first time. Many common mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety, often arise in our early years and can be long-lasting."
Anxiety and depression disorders account for almost 60% of the leading cause of global illness and disability. Given that half of all mental disorders start before the age of 14, early intervention in this mental health cycle is imperative if we want to alter these statistics.
It's not all doom and gloom. The food we eat can prevent and treat depression, anxiety and other mood disorders. Eating a balanced diet is something that is talked about often but usually in relation to the obesity epidemic driving nutritional advice in Australia. The correlation between mood and food is an emerging topic that is changing the way we look at what we put in our-and our children's mouths.
So, I was shocked to read that in Australia, less than .05% of children meet the minimum recommended number of serves for the five major food groups.
THAT'S LESS THAN HALF A PERCENT PEOPLE!
That's a frightening number when most of us know what a poor diet consists of:one that is high in processed meats, added sugar, fats and sodium and low in fruits and vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds and fibre.
Many people can identify when their children have been eating too much junk simply by their behaviour and mood. It's not just the sugary and fatty stuff-red cordial and lolly snakes at parties, or weekend burgars and pizza that does the damage. It's not getting enough of the good stuff which feeds their health and their brain, and in turn, helps their mood.
Lucky for us, diet can be changed. Using modifiable risk factors, Felice and her team's research demonstrated that improving diet could intervene and treat mood disorders, and may even be a factor in preventing them occurring.
What's clear is that diet matters to mental and brain health, so we can all start by leading by example and looking after our own bodies too!