Food & Mood

Our Food and Mood theme conducts research that aims to understand the complex ways in which what we eat influences our brain, mood, and mental health.

Our world-class researchers from various backgrounds study the food-mood relationship at different levels, from microbiology to public health.

Theme Leader Professor Felice Jacka (also Director, Food and Mood Centre) and Deputy Theme Leader Associate Professor Adrienne O’Neil lead the multi-disciplinary team of researchers and students.

Within the relatively new field of Nutritional Psychiatry, our research aims to identify nutrition-based approaches to preventing and treating mental disorders to improve brain and mental health for people everywhere.

We also have a keen focus on ensuring our research is translated from the laboratory into real-world settings in the community. We produce evidence-based resources and aim to provide quality Nutritional Psychiatry information for all.

Our world-leading research provides evidence that by improving our diets, we can effectively treat depression and anxiety and has led to breakthrough discoveries about how the quality of our daily diets is linked to the risk of these conditions throughout our lives.

Current projects include:

  • exploration of human gut bacteria (the microbiome) and mental and brain health across the lifespan
  • intervention studies that examine diet and nutrition-based treatments for mental and neurological conditions
  • mechanistic research into the gut microbiota during infancy and how this can impact on the development of the immune system and the brain
  • investigations into rehabilitation procedures for eating disorders and the role of the gut microbiota in treatment outcomes
  • dietary interventions, including randomised-controlled trials exploring the use of the Mediterranean and Ketogenic diet in people with low mood or psychotic symptoms

The theme also includes the Heart and Mind research group, led by Associate Professor Adrienne O’Neil. This group is currently exploring the relationship between depression and heart attacks and is funded by the Heart Foundation and the Wilson Foundation.

Philanthropic partnerships and global collaborations sit at the core of what we can achieve. To continue the research that drives breakthrough discoveries and innovation in the field of Nutritional Psychiatry, we need ongoing support. To find out how to donate to Food and Mood, click here.

Team profiles: