By: Carolina Ramos
On: 13 January 2021

How does microbiota influence mental health?

The number of patients with mental disorders worldwide is increasing. Therefore, more and more research is focussing on understanding the causes of these diseases and developing better treatments. One key factor that we are studying in this context is the microbiota that live in the gut. This new approach arises because gut microbiota influences various normal mental processes. When these mental processes don’t function well, this can cause mental disorders [1]. It is currently known that when the microbiota are not well developed, disturbed, or harmed, dysfunction can appear in the digestive system, immune system, endocrine system, nervous system, and...

By: Lisa Reijmers
On: 6 January 2021

The Relationship Between Sleep and ADHD

Most of you know and recognize that a short night of sleep does not make you feel well. After sleeping a short night, you wake up less rested and this affects your mood and behavior. You might be less focused and perform not as good at school or at work as you usually do. Sleep has been studied widely, but we still do not understand exactly what the function of sleep is. But we do know what happens if we do not sleep enough. For instance, research has shown that shorter sleep is connected to worse school performance and more...

By: Yvonne Willemsen
On: 23 December 2020

What is your three-year-old eating?

Part of my research aims to investigate the role of nutrition on the impulsive behavior of three-year-olds. Nutrition has been linked to inhibitory control (the ability to suppress impulses), but not all evidence is very clear or consistent [1]. One of the reasons is because previous studies have used different methods to investigate nutritional intake. There are different methods of assessing nutritional intake, such as a 24-hour recall (dietary intake of the past 24 hours is assessed), a food diary (dietary intake is recorded in a diary), or a food frequency questionnaire (the participant fills in a list of food...

By: Dr. Lizanne Schweren
On: 21 December 2020

Does your diet keep you awake at night?

Many of you will know that our dietary choices can affect the quality of our sleep. For instance, eating certain foods at night-time (malted milk, bananas) can make it easier to fall asleep, while drinking alcohol can cause sleep interruptions. But did you know that unhealthy diets may also disturb our circadian rhythm? In this blog, I will talk about a recent study with mice that showed how a high-fat diet can disturb their circadian rhythm. A circadian rhythm is a natural, internal process that regulates when we are awake and when we are asleep. The term circadian comes from...

By: Yangwenshan Ou
On: 17 December 2020

Can short-chain fatty acids lead to a healthy brain? Learn how dietary fiber products in the gut may benefit mental wellbeing.

What are short-chain fatty acids?Non-digestible dietary fibers are fermented in the gut by specific bacteria. During this process, they produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). The most abundant SCFAs are acetate, propionate and butyrate. Acetate is approximately three times more prevalent in the gut compared to propionate and butyrate, though the actual amount depends on the food type, bacterial composition and bowel transit time. What is the major role of SCFAs in maintaining gut health?The most important role of SCFAs is to act as an energy source for gut cells. When there are not enough SCFAs, the gut cannot perform many...

By: Dr. Berit Skretting Solberg
On: 17 December 2020

Food Frequency Questionnaire – what is it?

If we want to investigate the effects of diet on mental health and behavior, we need methods to reliably measure a person’s diet. Dietary intake can be measured in several ways; 24-hour recall (dietary intake of the past 24 hours), a food diary (dietary intake is recorded in a diary), or by using a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). In this blog, I will explain to you more in detail what FFQs are. FFQs are widely used in large scale observational studies as a dietary assessment method. The purpose of FFQs is to obtain frequency and portion size information about food...

By: Prokopis Konstanti
On: 10 December 2020

COVID19 and the effect on the gut microbiota

Although COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory disease, there is a growing body of evidence showing that it has a direct impact on the gastrointestinal system. Understanding how this system is affected by the disease will help us to better understand its biological mechanisms. Using human cells in petri dishes, researchers from the Netherlands have proven that COVID-19 can infect also gastrointestinal tissue and trigger gut inflammation1. This was later confirmed in living humans, as feces from COVID-19 patients were characterized by elevated levels of the pro-inflammatory marker calprotectin2.  Despite this evidence for the strong link between COVID-19 and our gut,...

By: Jenny McMahon
On: 8 December 2020

How has the COVID-19 pandemic influenced our mood?

Throughout this year, we have all felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in one way or another. The pandemic and related measures such as lockdown have been a major part of lives worldwide and have had a wide range of effects, such as isolation, increased stress and fear of contracting or spreading the virus. One further effect that has been present is a change in lifestyle and health behaviours like alcohol consumption, sleep quality, diet and physical activity. As these behaviours have been shown to be linked to mental well-being and differences in mood, a recent study (1) examined...

By: Indira Paz-Graniel
On: 24 November 2020

A coffee a day might keep cognitive decline away

What if enjoying a cup of coffee everyday could preserve your cognitive functioning when aging? In the last decades, the number of individuals that suffer from cognitive decline has increased exponentially. In parallel with an aging population this is a major public health issue. Neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia have a multifactorial background, which means that they are caused by many different factors, both genetic and environmental. One of these environmental factors is diet, which has a potential beneficial effect on preventing dementia onset and progression. Coffee is one the most consumed beverages worldwide...

By: Annick Huberts-Bosch
On: 19 November 2020

Lifestyle psychiatry: how could this benefit people with mental disorders?

Mental disorders affect almost 30% of individuals across the lifespan [1]. There are already a lot of psychotherapies and pharmacological treatments available for these individuals. However, there remains a large proportion of people who do not benefit fully form standard treatment [2,3]. Therefore, new approaches towards the prevention and treatment of mental health problems are needed. These can be delivered alongside traditional mental health care. But what could these new approaches include? Lifestyle factors might be an outcome: an emerging body of research has linked both the onset and symptoms of various mental disorders to lifestyle factors. This term refers...