How are food and mental health related? 

From the time we are inside the womb developing to the old age whatever we eat effects our heath....

The brain is one of the largest organs in the body and, like our hearts, livers and other organs, it is affected by what we eat and drink. We are what we eat.

However, unlike with other organs, the links between diet and the brain - and hence how we think and act - are not yet widely recognized.

Despite a large number of peer-reviewed and published research studies, scientific understanding of how food affects mental health is far from complete. However, it is already clear that our diets affect how our brains are made and how they work throughout our lives, from foetal development to old age. The significance of diet for mental health and well-being varies, but there appears to be no point in the human life-cycle at which diet has no effect.

There are some important nutrients for brain development and function, but they can only work properly if a wide range of other nutrients are also available in the right amounts and in proportion to each other. There is no "magic bullet" or single nutrient that holds the key to mental health and well-being. A balance diet is the best, and moderation is the key. We need a bit of everything. Our illness begins when we eat too much of something...

The combination of nutrients that is most commonly associated with good mental health and well-being is as follows:

   • polyunsaturated fatty acids (particularly the omega 3 types found

      in oily fish and some plants, olive oil..);

     • minerals, such as zinc (in whole grains, legumes, meat and milk),

       magnesium (in green leafy vegetables, nuts and whole grains), and iron

       (in red meat, green leafy vegetables, eggs and some fruit); and 

      • vitamins, such as folate (in green leafy vegetables and fortified cereals)

       , a range of B vitamins (whole grain products, yeast and dairy products)

        , and antioxidant vitamins such as C and E (in a wide range of fruit and

This is, of course, the same type of healthy balanced diet that is widely recommended to reduce our risk of developing coronary heart disease, strokes, a range of cancers, diabetes and a number of digestive disorders and conditions. People eating diets that lack one or more of this combination of polyunsaturated fats, minerals and vitamins, and/or contain too much saturated fat (or other elements, including sugar and a range of food and agricultural chemicals) seem to be at higher risk of developing the following conditions:

          • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
          • A range of depressive conditions
          • Schizophrenia
          • Dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.

The evidence so far does not show that these conditions can be prevented or cured by diet alone. However, evidence is accumulating that the combination of polyunsaturated fats, minerals and vitamins may help to: 

          • relieve the symptoms of some mental illnesses;
          • improve the effectiveness of medication for some conditions; and
          • reduce the unpleasant side-effects of some medications.

The diet that would give us the right amount and balance of these nutrients would contain:

           • lots of different vegetables and fruit,
           • a wide variety of whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes,
           • and some occasional oily fish, lean meat and dairy products. 

Food, mental health and evolution. It makes evolutionary sense that this type of diet would be good for both our physical and mental health. When food supplies were plentiful, our ancestors would have eaten broadly this kind of diet. Unfortunately that is not what most of us are eating now.The agricultural and industrial revolutions, followed by the globalization of world food trade mean that most people in rich countries (and growing proportions in poor countries) eat: 

        • small amounts of a few types of vegetables and fruit;
        • very few whole grain products - our carbohydrates are mostly refined

         (such as sugar and products made from white flour) - and from very

          narrow range of cereals (90% of the calories from cereals eaten in the

          UK are from wheat); 

         • very little oily fish,
         • but large quantities of intensively produced meat, meat products

          and dairy products;

         • unknown (and possibly unknowable) combination of food and

         agricultural chemicals, either as intentional additives or accidental residues.

As a result, instead of our diets providing a healthy combination of polyunsaturated fats, minerals and vitamins, we are eating too much saturated fat, sugar and salt and not enough vitamins and minerals. Our analysis of the research indicates that this diet is fueling not only obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers, but may also be contributing to rising rates of mental ill-health and anti-social behaviour.

Date: 14.12.2009.

If you are buying or selling properties in the U.K please take the followings into account

1) Getting too many mortgage quotes 

Here at, we're always telling you to shop around for financial products. And while this is a great way to ensure you're getting the best deal, unfortunately, if you're not careful, it could actually do more harm than good. When you're shopping around for a mortgage, you'll need to request a decision in principle from the lender. And as part of this, you may find the lender decides to run a full credit check. Each time this is carried out, it leaves a footprint on your credit report .
• Is your credit rating good enough for a mortgage?
• Have your Say: Property message boards
So if you go to more than one lender, you'll find you suddenly have a number of footprints on your credit record, and this could mean you get turned down for credit in the future. To avoid this, make sure you don't apply for too many deals. And if you want to keep an eye on your credit report, you can check it for free with Experian. You can read more about this in The secret ways banks are damaging your credit rating. 

2) Fixing your mortgage for too long 

Many of us like stability, and therefore knowing that your mortgage payments will stay the same each month can be reassuring. As a result, it can be very tempting to fix your mortgage for a number of years. However, you should be wary of fixing for too long. And that's because you simply don't know how your personal circumstances might change during that period - particularly if you're fixing for as long as 10 years. Luckily, if you end up having to move home, most long-term fixed rate deals are portable - so you can move your current mortgage over to your new property. But you may find it expensive to increase the size of your mortgage, if you're looking to buy a more expensive property. And if you get divorced or you lose your job, you may not be able to afford the mortgage anymore, and yet if you want to pay it off you will be hit by expensive early repayment charges. 

3) Believing your estate agent 

If you've put in an offer on a property that's below the asking price, watch out for the great estate agent spiel. It goes something like this: 'I should warn you that there's another couple looking around the property tonight who are very keen on buying and are likely to pay the full asking price. However, if you're prepared to raise your offer to match it, I can guarantee the property will be yours.' The estate agent is, of course, most likely to be preying on your fears of losing the property. And, if you're as gullible as I am, you'll probably fall for it. But don't! Stick to your guns (and your original offer) and keep those fingers crossed! There's a good chance your estate agent is fobbing you off with a load of rubbish!

4) Buying when the market is at its peak 

If you were one of the unlucky ones who bought a property in the summer of 2007, you'll know exactly what I mean. Buying a property when prices are high is never a great idea - not unless you want to watch your property value tumble soon after. 

5) Not budgeting for the hidden costs

Unfortunately, as well as paying for the property itself, there are a whole host of other costs you'll need to budget for. These include solicitor's fees, stamp duty, valuation fees, and so on. You can find out more about these in The never-ending costs of buying your first home .
Selling a property
If you're already a homeowner, but are hoping to sell up in the not too distant future, avoid these five mistakes at all costs: 

6) Letting the lease fall below 80 years 

The value of a leasehold property is affected by the number of years the lease has left to run. So as the length of the lease reduces, the underlying value of the property declines. And unfortunately, if you wait until you have less than 80 years on the lease, buying an extension becomes more expensive. That's because you will have to pay what's known as the marriage value. This is calculated by deducting the value of the property before the lease extension from the value of the property afterwards, plus the value of the landlord's interest in the property . If the lease has 80 years or more to go, you only have to pay the landlord's interest - which is not linked to value of the property, but to much smaller sums like the ground rent. This means that you can save thousands of pounds by extending your lease before the length falls below 80 years. So if your lease is approaching the 80 year mark, make sure you extend it now. Use the calculator on the Leasehold Advisory Service website to figure out how much you could save. 

7) Concreting over the garden 

It might be easier to maintain, but getting rid of all the grass around your home, and replacing it with concrete, really won't attract buyers. In fact, how the outside of your property looks can be more important than what's inside. After all, if a prospective buyer is welcomed by an over-run garden, or a slab of concrete, chances are he might not want to step inside. 

8) Removing period features 

It always saddens me when I see people have carelessly ripped out original features in a property - particularly when they're worth something! Take my boyfriend's granddad for example - he has some gorgeous original 1930's Art Deco style glass in the doors and windows of his home. They are in great condition and are worth a fair bit. And yet his neighbour has ripped his all out! But taking the time to restore period features can make the property more desirable. You can find tips on restoring period features here.

9) Smoking indoors 

If you're a regular smoker, don't do it in the home. There's nothing more off-putting for a potential buyer than stepping inside a property only to be greeted by yellowing walls and the thick smell of smoke. So make sure you smoke outside, and give the walls a good lick of paint before you put the property on the market. 

10) Choosing dark colours 

The first thing that went in my flat before I moved in was the horrible dark red carpet that ran throughout the property. It made the rooms look dark and dingy, and believe me, the minute it was ripped up, the whole place looked a million times better. So if you want to attract buyers (and not stupid ones like me), choose softer, neutral shades instead - this applies to walls too. More from