How do nutrition and lifestyle influence behavior?

We all know the old saying: “We are what we eat”. For example, we know there are “good” and “bad” foods that act on the risk of being obese, having diabetes, or suffering from cardiovascular disease, and medical science knows quite a lot about how this works.

What if we told you that what we eat can also affect the way the brain works? Here, however we are not so sure how it works. What we know is that there is convincing evidence of a sizeable impact – both harmful and protective – of nutrition components on behaviors such as impulsivity and compulsivity. It is not yet clear if specific (but common) nutrition interventions actually do work. More importantly, we don’t really know how big the impact (effect size) of these non-pharmacological interventions will be, which raises questions such as: can we improve our overall brain functioning or mental health by improving our diet and lifestyle?