While poor diet alone isn’t the be all and end all of behavioural problems, a recent study conducted in a high security prison for youth offenders showed that the levels of healthy and unhealthy fats in our diets can have a significant impact.

Healthy fats feed our brains (the brain and its nerve membranes contain an incredibly high proportion of fat), and cannot be made by our bodies – we have to ingest them through our diet. You can find healthy fats and Omega 3’s in nuts, avocadoes, fish and algae. If you aren’t getting enough, your starving brain won’t be able to respond to situations appropriately. In the aforementioned study, prisoners who were given fish oil supplements noticed a dramatic change in their mood, and everyone around them noticed a dramatic change in their behaviour (a 37% overall decrease in aggressive behaviour) – one prisoner even called it a “miracle cure.”

Alongside the link between Omega 3’s and an improvement in behaviour, the same researchers established a link between high levels of Omega 6’s and aggressive behaviour. Omega 6’s are found in processed foods and vegetable oils, and when they enter the brain in large quantities, they push Omega 3’s out.

In order to have a healthy brain and keep our moods stable, we need to have the right balance of Omega 3’s and 6’s. Rather than prescribing Ritalin for children who are acting out, it may well be worth simply reducing their intake of processed food, and increasing their intake of nuts, avocado and fish. The same could be said for prescribing mood-altering drugs for adults suffering from anxiety or anger problems.

If you’re not sure if you’re getting enough healthy fats in your diet or want to discuss vegetarian or vegan options, we’d love to have a chat: you can get in touch with us via our contact page.