June 28, 2004

Experts Forecast Mental Health Crisis Due to UK Diet

Previous research has already established a link between a Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency (found in fish, and "green" foods such as cabbage) and an individual's risk of developing schizophrenia. For example, a study released from the Royal College of Psychiatrists showed that people who ate lots of sugar and dairy, but not much oily fish, were more likely to develop severe mental disorders.

Now medical experts are predicting a future of burgeoning mental health issues, due to gradual changes in the national UK diet over the last 20 years.

Shifts in farming and food techniques, such as feeding livestock on processed grain and vitamin instead of omega-3 rich foods like grass, have decreased the presence of omega-3 acids in foods that a majority of people consume on a regular basis. Low consumption of fruits and vegetables is also compounding the issue.

Studies have also shown that expectant mothers with low intakes of omega-3 are more likely to have children who will later develop mental, behavioral, or developmental problems. The mothers themselves were more prone to depression.

The UK is attempting to divert what is being forecasted as a "major health crisis" by encouraging increased consumption of oily fish (example; fresh salmon - but not farmed salmon which is higher in toxins - and sardines). Officials are also considering fortifying other foods with omega-3 supplements. Scientists are working on methods to increase the natural production of omega-3 in cow milk.

Read the full report, 'Change in UK Diet Could Trigger Mental Health Crisis'(June 28, 2004) at news.independent.co.uk

For more information on the role of diet (particularly omega-3 fatty acids) in schizophrenia and brain development in general, please see: http://www.schizophrenia.com/treatments.htm - sections on Omega-3, vitamins and anti-oxidants, gluten-free diet, and more.

See also 'Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Mental Health: Is It Just a Fish Tale?' from St. John Health website (www.stjohn.org). Describes the research linking omega-3 levels with several mental disorders and their symptoms (including schizophrenia), and has a list of recommendations and caveats concerning omega-3 in the diet.

Diet and Schizophrenia - By Dr. Malcolm Peet, University of Sheffield

To learn about the possible detrimental effects of a high-sugar, high-fat diet on mental health, see 'Nutrition Affects Long-Term Schizophrenia Outcome' (DailyNews Blog on Schizophrenia.com, June 20)


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