The current systematic review was conducted to understand the relationship and interaction between nutrition and mental health across the lifespan. The search adhered to PRISMA guidelines. Around 851 relevant articles published between January 2000 till 15th September 2021 were identified by systematic online search from 6 electronic databases (PubMed, PsycInfo, Science Direct, MEDLINE, Scopus and Google Scholar). Thirty one studies that assessed the intake of wholesome diets, dietary components and used standardized measures of dietary assessments as well as aspects of mental health were finally included as per the inclusion criteria. The American Dietetic Association Quality Criteria Checklist for Primary Research (2016) and the European Micronutrient Recommendations Aligned Network of Excellence scoring system was used to assess the quality of articles in a 2 step process. The heterogeneity between study definitions of dietary and internalizing symptomatology variables precluded formal meta-analysis. A narrative synthesis of the findings from the included studies was performed.
The results of the review suggest that healthy eating pattern, including green leafy vegetables and fresh fruits, polyunsaturated fatty acids, like alpha-linoleic acid and minerals like magnesium positively impact mental health across the life span, starting from the prenatal period where it has implications not only for the mental health of the mother but also for mental development and cognition of her offspring. Further, childhood meal patterns (especially high reliance on nutrient poor and HFSS foods) have an impact on the future health of the adolescents as mental health disorders start appearing around this age. While clearly, diet is not the only determinant of mental health, attention towards a balance dietary pattern has long term implications for well-being.
Keywords: Mental Health, Nutritional Psychology, Review, Systematic, PRISMA, PICOS