The Food & Mood Centre is a collaborative research centre led by Deakin University in Australia. We are a multi-disciplinary team studying the ways in which what we eat influences our brain, mood, and mental health. This centre is unique in the world: it is the only centre specifically focusing on Nutritional Psychiatry research.

We carry out cutting edge research to identify new and effective approaches to the prevention and treatment of mental and brain disorders. We hope that the information here on this website will help your understanding of the topic and help you to make positive improvements to your own nutrition and mental health.

The Food and Mood Centre at Deakin University is committed to conducting high quality research that helps us to learn about how we might reduce risk, prevent, and treat mental disorders through diet and nutrition.

We aim to provide a resource for the public, researchers and clinicians, where they can access clear and easy to understand information on nutrition and mental health. We hope you find what you were looking for on this website. Let us know if you don’t!

What is Nutritional Psychiatry?

Nutritional Psychiatry is a term used to describe a field of research, and a way of approaching the prevention and treatment of mental ill health, that focuses on diet and nutrition.

Did you know that unhealthy diet, along with its associated obesity and high blood pressure, is now the main risk factor for early death across the globe? The international Burden of Disease studies tell us this and it’s a sobering thought.

Our diets have changed profoundly in recent decades, largely due to changes in our food environments. Highly processed food products, with lots of added unhealthy fats and sugars, have replaced traditional whole food diets that included fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean unprocessed meats and fish, and beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. This is no longer the case only in Western countries, and it is not only affecting people in economically deprived situations – it’s affecting everyone!  Given that food is the fundamental fuel for our body and brain, it’s not really surprising then that we are seeing a tidal wave of ill health related to unhealthy food, such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, across the planet.

What you also may not know is that mental illness, including substance use and addiction problems, is the major contributor to disability across the globe. Of these mental disorders, it is depression that makes up the biggest slice of that particularly unhappy pie. What this means is that mental ill health has a terrible impact on capacity to live to our potential, affecting our ability to work or participate fully in life, and that this impact is felt to a great extent across countries and cultures.

But what almost no one knew until relatively recently is that these two things, unhealthy diet and mental ill health, are linked. This is very important understanding. What we, and others, have now shown over the last six or so years is that unhealthy diet, whether it’s too much junk food, or not enough ‘nutrient-dense’ foods, or perhaps both, is a risk factor for depression and anxiety. It also appears to be a risk factor for more general emotional dysregulation in children, which is in turn related to the risk for a range of mental disorders as children grow.

Our Food and Mood Centre research program is focused on expanding the important research in this new field of Nutritional Psychiatry so that we can discover risk factors and develop solutions to mental health problems using dietary and nutritional strategies. We are the only such research centre in the world and we hope that you find our work as fascinating and important as we do.

We would really appreciate your support to find solutions to these leading causes of disability and suffering – please keep reading to find out more.