Dietary Intake

Why Does It Matter?

“How the food you eat affects your brain” by Mia Nacamulli, 5 minutes

It is well established that a healthy, well-balanced diet containing adequate amounts of fat, protein, carbohydrates, and trace nutrients is essential for brain health. While some fats like Omega Fatty Acids 3 and 6 are crucial for the creation and maintenance of cell membranes, other fats like trans fats may compromise brain health. Proteins and amino acids affect how we feel and behave. The complex chemical compounds in proteins can stimulate brain cells to release mood-altering chemicals. And trace micronutrients found in fruits and vegetables are important factors that help fight the damage of free radicals. A varied diet of nutrient rich foods is critical for sustained brain power (TED-Ed, 2016).

One recent study found a correlation between diet and variables related to social cognition and mood, and that following a specialized diet may improve psychic wellbeing and the processing of social and affective information (Ugartemendia, et al., 2020). Read more...

About the Instrument

The Dietary Screener Questionnaire (DSQ) aims to identify the frequency of consumption in the past month of fruits and vegetables, dairy/calcium, added sugars, whole grains/fiber, red meat, and processed meat. This information can then be used to determine whether individuals are meeting dietary recommendations in the various categories.

There are 26 questions included in the DSQ, and it takes approximately 8 minutes to complete. Details about the questions and where they come from can be found in the document attached to this page.

Photo by Louis Hansel from Unsplash



  • Dietary Screener Questionnaire in the NHANES 2009-2010. National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health

  • TED-Ed, (2016, June 21). How the food you eat affects your brain - Mia Nacamulli. [Video]. YouTube.

  • Thompson, F.E. et al. (2004). Performance of a short tool to assess dietary intakes of fruits and vegetables, percentage energy from fat and fibre. Public Health Nutrition, 7(8), 1097-105.

  • Ugartemendia L, Bravo R, Castaño MY, Cubero J, Zamoscik V, Kirsch P, Rodríguez AB, Reuter M. "Influence of diet on mood and social cognition: a pilot study". Food Funct. 2020 Sep 23;11(9):8320-8330. doi: 10.1039/d0fo00620c. PMID: 32910112.