– Diet and mental health. Until recently, as a
conventional medical doctor, the widespread view was that our diets don’t really play that much impact in terms of the way we feel. What is going on there? – Yeah, I think, you know,
there’s been this long-standing, I guess, dichotomy between mind and body, this idea that somehow
the brain was up here and the body was down here,
and they really didn’t have a lot to do with each other. What really got me interested
in the link between nutrition and mental and brain health
was the understanding, probably late 1990s, early
2000s, that the immune system seemed to be really central,
particularly with depression. It seemed to be both cause and consequence of depressive illnesses. And of course, nutrition
is a really strong driver of immune function. And also in the early 2000s,
a lot of neuroscience work coming out of America
that looked at the impact of nutrition as well as
exercise on brain plasticity, in particular this region of the brain called the hippocampus,
which is really important for learning and memory, as
well as for mental health, and showing that you could manipulate that in animal studies rapidly by altering diet and also exercise. So there was this emerging evidence that of course the mind and the body were one highly complex,
integrated system. And now new knowledge around the gut and the gut microbiota is really
solidifying that knowledge and giving us some more
insights and targets for our research and
potentially our prevention and treatment strategies.