The Link Between Diet and Declining Brain Health: A Growing Mental Health Epidemic

declining brain health

In an era of technological advancements and evolving lifestyles, the food on our plates is under scrutiny as a potential cause of declining brain health. Professor Michael Crawford, Director of the Institute of Brain Chemistry and Human Nutrition, presents a concerning narrative in his new book, “The Shrinking Brain.”

He argues that over time, the human brain has shrunk by an alarming 20%, leading to a steady decline in IQ scores and a substantial rise in cases of mental illness.

The Connection between Diet and Declining Brain Health

Crawford highlights the potential connection between the human brain’s size reduction and the food we consume. Modern diets, often deficient in key nutrients, maybe a significant contributor to this alarming trend.

As one in five of the world’s children and adolescents is reported to have a mental health condition, this issue demands attention. Norwegian research, led by Ole Rogeberg, points to a decline in IQ scores among individuals born after 1975, a trend mirrored in various other countries, including Denmark, Britain, France, the Netherlands, Finland, and Estonia.

Crawford emphasizes that the decline in brain health can be attributed to environmental factors, specifically dietary choices. The switch from a diet high in fats to one rich in carbohydrates and sugar has coincided with a decrease in IQ scores. Researchers in the United States found that IQ test scores dropped over 13 years, correlating with this dietary shift.

This shift was fueled by the belief that fat, not sugar, was responsible for heart disease, leading to the widespread adoption of low-fat diets. Consequently, IQ scores have been decreasing by about seven percent per generation.

Professor Crawford, who also serves as a visiting professor at Imperial College London, warns that society is on a dangerous trajectory. He suggests that our modern diets are “dumbing us down” and that we are “heading for an idiocracy.”

The foods we consume today bear little resemblance to those of our ancestors, who evolved with a 1,600cc brain compared to the 350cc brain of chimpanzees, despite only a 1.5% difference in our genomes. This unique brain growth, Crawford argues, was made possible by the consumption of brain-specific nutrients from both land and sea.


The implications of these findings are far-reaching. If the decline in brain health is indeed linked to our dietary choices, it underscores the urgent need for a dietary transformation.

The Western diet’s shift away from fats towards carbohydrates and sugar has profound consequences not only for our physical health but also for our mental well-being. As mental health conditions continue to affect a significant portion of the population, addressing the dietary component becomes crucial

Crawford’s book serves as a poignant call to action, highlighting the necessity of further research into the relationship between diet and brain health.

With society facing a growing mental health epidemic, it is imperative to understand the role of nutrition in this crisis. Initiatives aimed at improving dietary education and awareness can play a pivotal role in addressing these concerns.

In conclusion, the connection between diet and declining brain health is a pressing issue. The work of Professor Michael Crawford sheds light on the potential impact of dietary choices on our mental well-being.

As the world grapples with a rising mental health epidemic, addressing the role of nutrition in this crisis has become an urgent imperative.


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