A laboratory to explore a very important but often underestimated theme: that of the relationship to food for people with mental health problems. This is the objective of Ali-Menti, the laboratory included in the project “Let’s make a network (for psychophysical well-being)” launched by the associations Cosma and Percorsi operating in Pescara and Chieti. The two presidents, Tiziana Arsta and Eugenio Di Caro, involved the dietician Luisa Andreacola, medical director of the ASL of Pescara (dysmetabolic diseases and nutritional rehabilitation) and the doctor of psychology Miriam Inguardia. “There is a series of foods that can be used in patients with psychiatric and psychological problems or depressive states that can represent an excellent adjuvant to pharmacotherapy since they act on the serotoninergic system – explains Andreacola -. Today , it has become almost fashionable to say that dark chocolate can have a positive effect on mood, but it is not the only one, others can be blueberries, bananas or nuts which are better than almonds. There are also spices or aromatic herbs or medicinal plants often little taken into account but just as useful. And here I am thinking of basil, rosemary, pepper, cinnamon. The latter, for example – adds he – also helps a lot in the prevention of obesity, especially in diabetic patients or those taking medications that predispose to weight gain.The purpose of these meetings is to generate interest. êt for these subjects, in particular with the relatives or relatives of these people”.
A project which has already given good results, underlines the dietician, in particular on younger patients who, in addition to medication, also have another tool to fight against their discomfort: food. By knowing better the properties of each individual food, obvious results can therefore be obtained, but it is necessary to reduce calorie intake, explains Andreacola. “It is essential to limit sugar, snacks, carbonated drinks, industrial juices and, conversely, to try to stimulate people to have direct and correct contact with food. But this is true for everyone, both patients and people who do not have pathologies and in particular for children and young people,” he underlines. The role of food in emotions and cognitive functions is, on the other hand, the aspect studied by Inguardia. “We eat because we feel empty, because we are afraid, but it is a behavior that often, not even at a pathological level, is part of everyone’s life in times of stress or difficulty – he explains. -il-. However, when it comes to cognitive functions, food is linked to memory and attention. Every food contains micronutrients that naturally support these functions. Yet it is essential not to understand food as a reward, otherwise it is no longer linked to a need but to an emotional necessity As for the Ali-Menti laboratory of the ‘Let’s network’ project, we will also have the development of the autonomy of patients who, therefore, will be oriented towards the choice of food, on the ability to shop. The data will then be evaluated through tests to analyze the success, or not, of our initiative at the level of nutritional psycho-education”.