In the Eat2beNICE project, you study the links between gut microbiota, diet, and exercise to draft nutrition and lifestyle recommendations. Focusing on individuals with mental health problems, could you tell us more about the studies on how to maximise one’s feeling of well-being? E.g., through exercise, nutrition, and particularly through the modification of one’s microbiome, including via the ingestion of specific pre/probiotics?
The aim of Eat2beNICE is to discover nutritional drivers of behaviour and evaluate if these nutritional drivers can also reduce the risk and burden of mental health conditions.
Our project focuses on the role of genetics and of the gut microbiome in the relationship between food, physical activity, and behaviour. We know that food and physical activity affect our health, including brain health. From our epidemiological studies we know that direct effects of food on mental health are small. However, food could have an indirect effect on behaviour via the gut microbiome and genetics.
Eat2beNICE is involved in four clinical trials investigating different nutritional interventions for mental health: one studying the effects of different diets on ADHD, one on the Mediterranean diet and cognition, and two trials studying impulsivity: one testing a probiotic formula and another testing nutritional supplementation. These two trials are based on the premise that problems with impulse control will increase the chance of unhealthy eating behaviors. Unhealthy eating behaviors will, subsequently, modify the microbiota and (theoretically) exacerbate the maladaptive behavior. The primary outcome of these two trials is that groups exposed to probiotic/nutritional supplements will show a (higher) reduction of behavioral symptoms compared to the placebo groups.
Another key pillar of Eat2beNICE is to develop a communication strategy to inform key stakeholders (i.e., patients, clinicians, policy makers, scientists) about the role of nutrition in mental health. We do this through the platform www.newbrainnutrition.com.