Study limitations and clinical implications

This study adds to the evidence suggesting that what people eat affects multiple areas of health. However, the study also has certain limitations.

First, it utilized data from the UK Biobank, which does not entirely reflect the diversity of the population in the United Kingdom, where the Biobank collects these data.

This is as the cohort was recruited over 20 years ago, and while the cohort reflects the ethnic make-up of the UK in 2001, this has changed since then. The cohort is also comprised of older individuals, and all members of this cohort were between the ages of 53–87.

Then, the research focused mainly on healthy individuals. Those who responded to food-like questionnaires and those who did not may have also influenced the results.

The nature of the study also means that it cannot prove causality. The average age of participants was around 71 years old, so future research could focus on younger participants.

Researchers further note that while they were able to examine levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, they did not examine levels of tryptophanTrusted Source, which is linked to mental health and cognitive function.

They also did not gather detailed information on how omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids were involved in the dietary patterns. These choices may have led to overlooked data, as these elements are important to serotonin synthesis and, thus, to overall mental health.

Finally, some data collection relied on participant reporting, which is not always factual. Researchers also focused on food preferences rather than data on the actual foods that participants ate, and they used simplified measurements of mental health factors.

Nevertheless, even taking these shortcomings into account, the results point to the importance of following healthy dietary patterns to support positive outcomes for brain health.