In May 2019 researchers from Australia, UK, Italy and the USA published their review which assessed how diet may affect physical and mental health outcomes in severe mental health issues. It has been established that severe mental health issues, including major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, are associated with increased inflammation. As the diet has a role in modifying or controlling inflammatory processes, it is thought that excessive calorie-dense, nutrient-deficient processed food intake may contribute towards the increased inflammation observed in severe mental health issues. The researchers stated that studies have shown individuals with severe mental health issues, particularly schizophrenia, appear to consume more pro-inflammatory foods and fewer anti-inflammatory nutrients than the general population. There are also studies which show that high levels of dietary inflammation are associated with an increased risk of developing depression, although there is currently a lack of evidence for schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Dietary interventions have been shown to improve symptoms of depression, but no study has looked at the extent to which these benefits are due to changes in inflammation. Further research is therefore urgently required to establish the extent to which diet explains elevated levels of inflammatory markers seen in individuals suffering from severe mental health issues.
Firth J et al. What Is the Role of Dietary Inflammation in Severe Mental Illness? A Review of Observational and Experimental Findings. Front Psychiatry. 2019 May 15;10:350