Diet And Mental Health In Teens

Written by Dr. Steve Chaney on . Posted in Diet and Mental Health, Diets to Fight Depression, Food and Health

Is Your Teen Crazy Because Of What They Eat?

Author: Dr. Stephen Chaney

 

diet mental health teensIf you have teenagers or have had teenagers in the past, you know they can be a little crazy at times. Sometimes they are a lot crazy. It’s easy to dismiss the occasional weird behavior by attributing it to raging hormones. I wouldn’t want to dismiss the difficulty teens experience adjusting to all these new hormones running around inside their body.

However, if you have a teenager, you also know their diet often isn’t the best. Many of them live on sodas, fast foods, snack foods and sweets. Could there be a correlation between what they eat and their mental health? In fact, several recent studies have suggested there is a correlation between poor diet and mental health issues in teens.

What is the connection between diet and mental health in teens?

This study (WH Oddy et al, Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, doi.org/10.1016/j.bbi.2018.01.002) breaks new ground.

  • The scientists in charge of the study asked whether the effect of diet on mental health was direct or indirect. Specifically, they asked whether diet influenced obesity and inflammation which, in turn, influenced mental health.
  • They also investigated a reverse hypothesis model. Specifically, they asked whether poor mental health led to poor diet rather than the other way around.

How Was This Study Done?

diet mental health teens doctorsThis study has a very interesting history. It grew out of a major pregnancy study (The Raine study) initiated in Western Australia in 1989. The Raine study was designed to determine how events during pregnancy and childhood influence health later in life. Diet and many other variables were measured during pregnancy, at birth, and at 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 10, 14, 17, 18, 20, and 22 years of age for the offspring. This particular study followed 843 teenagers who were assessed at ages 14 and 17.

Based on food frequency questionnaires administered at both ages, the participants’ diets were given a score ranging from a “Healthy” at one extreme to “Western” at the other extreme.

  • The “Westerndiet was characterized by fast foods, convenience foods, red and processed meats, full-fat dairy, French fries, refined grains, sweets, soft drinks, chips, sauces, and dressings. (Does that sound like your teen?)
  • The “Healthydiet was characterized by whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and fish. (It’s nice to know that some teens eat that way.)

In addition to diet, the scientists measured BMI (a measure of obesity) and mental health in the 14-year-old group. When those same teens reached 17, the measurements were repeated, and blood markers of inflammation were also measured.

Two assessments of mental health were used.

  • The first assessment measured depression.
  • The second assessment measured “Internalizing Behaviors” (withdrawal, depression, and anxiety) and “Externalizing Behaviors” (aggression, delinquency, and attention disorders). High scores on this test indicate a higher level of emotional and behavioral problems.

 

Diet And Mental Health In Teens

diet mental health teens choicesHere are the results of the study:

  • Adherence to a “Western” diet was associated with greater caloric intake and obesity at age 14.
  • By the time the teens reached 17, adherence to a “Western” diet was associated with:
    • Obesity and inflammation
    • Depression and other mental health issues
  • A “Healthy” diet was protective against obesity, inflammation and mental health issues.
  • Obesity and inflammation were independently associated with depression and mental health issues in the 17-year-olds.

So what was the correlation between diet and mental health in teens?

On this basis, the investigators speculated that the effect of poor diet on mental health outcomes in teens was mediated by obesity and inflammation. (That is a fancy way of saying poor diet leads to obesity and inflammation, and obesity and inflammation lead to poor mental health.) However, the authors acknowledged they could not exclude a direct effect of diet on mental health.

  • Depression at age 14 did not correlate with poor dietary patterns at age 14. Simply put, if you started with everyone who had poor dietary habits at age 14, it correlated well with depression. However, if you went in the reverse direction – if you started with everyone who was depressed at age 14, it did not correlate well with poor diet.

On this basis, the investigators concluded that the reverse model hypothesis was unlikely. In short, they concluded that a model in which poor diet leads to depression and other mental health issues in teens is much more likely than a model in which mental health issues lead to a poor diet.

 

What Does This Mean For You?

diet mental health teens vegetablesWhen you put this in the context of previous studies, it is clear that what we eat matters. More importantly, what we eat matters at every stage of life. For example:

These studies are just the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens of recent studies that come to the same conclusion. In short, a good diet can make you happier as well as healthier. Whether you are 9 months or 90 years, a good diet is just as important for your mental health as for your physical health.

As for those crazy teens of yours, you might want to encourage them to eat healthier. It may be a hard sell at first, but once they start feeling happier and calmer they may just be converts to a healthy eating plan.

Remember, there is a connection between diet and mental health in teens.

The Bottom Line:

 

A recent study followed a group of teens in Western Australia from ages 14 to 17. They compared the effect of a “Western diet” (characterized by fast foods, convenience foods, red and processed meats, full-fat dairy, French fries, refined grains, sweets, soft drinks, chips, sauces, and dressings) with a “Healthy diet” (characterized by whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and fish) on obesity, inflammation, depression, and mental health. The study found:

  • Adherence to a “Western” diet was associated with greater caloric intake and obesity at age 14.
  • By the time the teens reached 17, adherence to a “Western” diet was associated with:
    • Obesity and inflammation
    • Depression and other mental health issues
  • A “Healthy” diet was protective against obesity, inflammation and mental health issues.

This study was consistent with dozens of other studies showing that diet affects mental health at every age. These studies show a good diet can make you happier as well as healthier. Whether you are 9 months or 90 years, a good diet is just as important for your mental health as for your physical health.

As for those crazy teens of yours, you might want to encourage them to eat healthier. It may be a hard sell at first, but once they start feeling happier and calmer they may just be converts to the healthy eating plan.

For more details, read the article above.

 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Trackback from your site.

Comments (1)

  • Bonnie Hershey

    |

    Ugh, this is so true! We have been in youth ministry for the last 15 years (and now raising teens of our own), and it seems that depression and anxiety are on the rise. This generation coming up (Gen Y) is dealing with the most anxiety of any other before them (due to our world situation), and we need to be making sure that their diets DON’T make things worse! I wish more educators and those working with teens would help by encouraging good eating/snacking…and help us educate more parents to this truth as well. What we feed our kids matters!

    Reply

Leave a comment

Recent Videos From Dr. Steve Chaney

READ THE ARTICLE
READ THE ARTICLE

Latest Article

Inner Knee Pain Relief

Posted June 19, 2018 by Dr. Steve Chaney

You Don’t Need To Suffer From Inner Knee Pain

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT – The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

inner knee painInner knee pain will prevent you from straightening your leg. You may feel the pain especially when you go from sitting to standing, or when you walk down stairs. Yet treating a tiny muscle called Popliteus will often stop the pain quickly and easily.

 

Inner Knee Pain Is Frequently Caused By A Small Muscle

inner knee pain popliteusThe muscle is called Popliteus and is a muscle that is rarely considered by professionals while searching for solutions to inner knee pain.

Your Popliteus muscle is located deep inside your knee, connecting your thigh bone to your lower leg bone.  As you follow the link, move to #2 and #4 to see the Popliteus.  You’ll also see a muscle called Plantaris, which may or may not be a part of your problem.

When you are standing up straight, the muscle is at its longest length, but it shortens as your knee bends. The contraction of the muscle initiates the movement, giving the muscle the title of “the key that unlocks the knee.”  When you are sitting for hours or doing an activity such as cycling, the muscle is held shortened. This is the beginning of the problem.

A phenomenon called “Muscle Memory” changes the length of the muscle to the now-shorter length.  Since the muscle doesn’t lengthen as you go to stand up, it puts pressure on the two bones. You feel pain deep inside your knee joint, and you don’t realize it’s caused by a muscle.

In fact, because of the tension in the muscle, you may not be able to straighten your leg. You may feel the exact same symptoms as arthritis.  Fortunately, the muscle can be treated easily, releasing the tension on your knee joint.

Inner Knee Pain Relief By Treating Your Popliteus Muscle

inner knee pain reliefTo treat your Popliteus muscle, bend your knee and wrap your hands around it as shown in the picture.

Place your thumbs on the top of your knee cap and press your middle fingers into the back of your knee joint.

Press around with your fingertips until you find a “hot spot.”  This is the spasm that is causing the inner knee pain.  Once you have found the spasm, hold the pressure for 15 seconds. After 15 seconds, continue pressing on the spasm but slowly straighten your leg. This is releasing the spasm in the muscle and it is also stretching the fibers.  Repeat it 3-4 times or until it is no longer painful.  You don’t have to suffer from inner knee pain or many other joint pains.

inner knee pain free livingYou Can Eliminate Pains Quickly And Easily!

Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living is an easy-to-read and easy-to-follow guide to other Julstro Method self-treatments for joint pains.

Colorful charts show you the areas of pain, and the location of the spasms that are the source of discomfort. Photographs and clear descriptions show you how to release the spasms.

This is not a book for your library. Treat Yourself to Pain-Free Living is a reference book that will become your favorite “go-to” book when you have aches and pains!

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

 

julie donnelly

About The Author

Julie Donnelly is a Deep Muscle Massage Therapist with 20 years of experience specializing in the treatment of chronic joint pain and sports injuries. She has worked extensively with elite athletes and patients who have been unsuccessful at finding relief through the more conventional therapies.

She has been widely published, both on – and off – line, in magazines, newsletters, and newspapers around the country. She is also often chosen to speak at national conventions, medical schools, and health facilities nationwide.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

UA-43257393-1