World-first free course launched to help people eat themselves happier

Media release
18 November 2019

Deakin University's Food and Mood Centre is equipping people around the world with a new approach to promoting mental wellbeing - through good diet - thanks to a free online short course.

'Food and Mood: Improving Mental Health Through Diet and Nutrition' is the world's first free course in the burgeoning field of nutritional psychiatry, and will be available through FutureLearn from November 25.

It has been developed by Food & Mood Centre Director Professor Felice Jacka - whose ground-breaking SMILES trial was the first study to show dietary changes could reduce symptoms of depression - alongside research fellow Dr Tetyana Rocks.

Professor Jacka said new ways to combat the global mental health crisis were urgently needed.

"Globally mental disorders account for the highest burden of disability, but despite huge attention in recent years to reduce stigma and increase access to treatment, the population rates are not decreasing and may even be increasing," she said.

"Whatever we're doing it’s not working, we need new ways of both preventing and treating mental health problems.

"Research recognises that diet quality has a direct association with mental disorders. So we want to use this evidence to help people optimise their mental health and wellbeing through diet and nutrition."

Dr Rocks said that during the online learning course, which includes about nine hours of content, participants would have access to the latest food and mood research as well as information on how to optimise diets for better mental health.

"This course is targeted at health professionals, as well as general consumers who would like to learn more about how healthy dietary choices can improve mental and brain health," she said.

"It will arm participants with specific tools to make dietary changes for better mental wellbeing, whether that's for themselves, their friends or family, or their clients."

Dr Rocks said poor diet and mental health were leading causes of death and illness worldwide.

"We now know that diet quality is a key factor in influencing mental and brain health across all stages of life," she said.

"In our course, participants will explore the physiological ways daily diet can affect mental and brain health. They will also consider the role of the immune system and the gut microbiome. Plus there's an evidence-based exploration of other popular topics including macro and micronutrients, dietary misconceptions and myths, personalised nutrition, and the gut-brain axis."

The Food & Mood Centre at Deakin University is a world-leading, multi-disciplinary research centre that aims to understand the complex ways in which what we eat influences our brain, mood, and mental health.

To sign up for Deakin's free Food and Mood course, or for more information, visit www.futurelearn.com/courses/food-and-mood.

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