How Does Ultra-Processed Food Affect Our Mental Health?

Currently, one in five Americans live with a mental illness, and these rates have been tracking alongside increases in metabolic disease. Yet, conventional psychiatric care does not typically include discussion of food or an assessment of metabolic dysfunction, obesity, or insulin resistance in the evaluation or treatment of mental health conditions. On this episode of The Doctor’s Farmacy, I was happy to sit down and talk with Dr. Shebani Sethi about the relationship between mental health and metabolic disease, and how we are gradually coming to understand that inflammation, oxidative stress, and insulin resistance may represent important root causes of many chronic brain illnesses, including many psychiatric disorders. We often hear about food in the context of physical health—eating for a strong heart, healthy weight, and glowing skin. But what about the other impacts of food, like how it makes us feel emotionally and mentally? Dr. Sethi and I discuss metabolic psychiatry, a term she coined, which looks at the connection between psychiatry and overall metabolic health. Metabolic psychiatry considers how nutrition affects the brain, specifically focusing on reducing sugar, processed foods, and refined carbohydrates as a mechanism to improve mind and body health. Dr. Sethi discusses how highly refined carbohydrates and ultra-processed foods can alter brain signaling, appetite-satiety mechanisms, and reward signaling, and how the use of a ketogenic diet can be an effective intervention to address mental illness, including binge eating and food addiction. Dr. Sethi also shares with us the single most effective intervention we can implement today to support our overall health, and prevent mental health and metabolic disorders. This episode is brought to you by Thrive Market, Bioptimizers, and the Pegan Shake. Right now, Thrive is offering all Doctor's Farmacy listeners an amazing deal. Select a free gift from Thrive Market when you sign up for a 1 year membership. And, any time you spend more than $49 you’ll get free carbon-neutral shipping. Just head over to My new favorite magnesium is from a company called Bioptimizers—their Magnesium Breakthrough formula contains 7 different forms which all have different functions in the body. There is truly nothing like it on the market. Right now you can try Bioptimizers Magnesium Breakthrough for 10% off, just go to and use the code HYMAN10 at checkout. The Pegan Shake features a combination of collagen, pumpkin, and pea protein with healthy fats from my two favorites: MCT oil which is great for fat burning and brain power as well as avocado oil. I’ve also included acacia fiber to help with gut motility and digestion. Check it out at
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