A healthy diet is linked to good mental health, whatever your age and background, research finds. People who avoid unhealthy foods — like fried and processed foods — have fewer symptoms of psychological distress.

Only around one-in-ten people in Australia eat the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables. The recommended amount is 1½ to 2 cups per day of fruit and 2 to 3 cups per day of vegetables.

A poor diet is linked to poor mental health: sugar and processed grain are thought to be among the main culprits. 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 as evidence seems to be pointing in that direction.

The study included data from over 240,000 people collected across ten years. The results revealed that 13% of people experienced moderate psychological distress, with 4% in severe psychological distress. The study concluded that more should be done to improve diet quality among those struggling with mental health. A previous study also found that the more fruit and vegetables people eat, the better their state of mind. Eating just one extra portion of fruit and vegetables per day is enough to measurably improve mental well-being.

To improve mental health:

  1. Eat less fried and processed foods
  2. Eat less sugar and processed grain
  3. Eat more fruit and vegetables