New research suggests women need a more nutrient-rich diet to support a positive emotional well-being. Investigators used social media to discover that unlike men, women are less likely to experience mental well-being until a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle are followed.
The new study expands emerging research that suggests anatomical and functional differences in men’s and women’s brain dictate susceptibility to mental disease. However, research has been limited on the role of dietary patterns in gender-specific psychological well-being.
The paper, “Principal Component Analysis Identifies Differential Gender-Specific Dietary Patterns that may be Linked to Mental Distress in Human Adults,” appears in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience.
To address this void, a team of researchers led by Lina Begdache, assistant professor of health and wellness studies at Binghamton University, conducted an anonymous survey of 563 participants (48 percent men and 52 percent women) through social media.
Begdache and her team found that men are more likely to experience mental well-being until nutritional deficiencies arise. A balanced diet and healthy lifestyle, however, are important for women to experience mental well-being.
“The biggest takeaway is that women may need a larger spectrum of nutrients to support mood, compared to men,” said Begdache.
“These findings may explain the reason why women are twice more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety and depression and suffer from longer episodes, compared to men. Today’s diet is high in energy but poor in key nutrients that support brain anatomy and functionality.”
Evidence suggests that our ancestors’ diet, which was a high-energy-nutrient-dense diet, contributed significantly to brain volumes and cognitive evolution of mankind, said Begdache.
“Males and females had different physical and emotional responsibilities that may have necessitated different energy requirements and food preference,” she said.
“Thus, gender-based differential food and energy intake may explain the differential brain volumes and connectivity between females and males.
Investigators surmise that our contemporary diets are ill suited for the evolved human brain and that this mismatch is disturbing the normal functionality of certain systems in the brain.
Source: Binghamton University