Summary: According to researchers, women may need a diet that includes a larger spectrum of nutrients which help support mood, compared to men.
Source: Binghamton University.
Women may need a more nutrient-rich diet to support a positive emotional well-being, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University at New York.
Mounting evidence suggests that anatomical and functional differences in men’s and women’s brain dictate susceptibility to mental disease. However, little is known about the role of dietary patterns in gender-specific psychological wellbeing. 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 to investigate this issue. Begdache and her team found that men are more likely to experience mental well-being until nutritional deficiencies arise. Women, however, are less likely to experience mental well-being until a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle are followed.
According to Begdache, these results may explain reports from previous studies that show that women are at a greater risk for mental distress when compared to men, and emphasize the role of a nutrient-dense diet in mental wellbeing.
“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. Therefore, a potential mismatch is happening between our contemporary diet and the evolved human brain which is disturbing the normal functionality of certain systems in the brain.
Source: Lina Begdache – Binghamton University
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Original Research: Abstract for “Principal component analysis identifies differential gender-specific dietary patterns that may be linked to mental distress in human adults” by Lina Begdache, Hamed Kianmehr, Nasim Sabounchi, Maher Chaar & Jade Marhaba in Nutritional Neuroscience. Published July 20 2018.
Principal component analysis identifies differential gender-specific dietary patterns that may be linked to mental distress in human adults
Independent reports describe the structural differences between the human male and female brains and the differential gender-susceptibility to mood disorders. Nutrition is one of the modifiable risk factors that has been reported to impact brain chemistry and affect mental health.
To study dietary patterns in adult men and women in relation to mental distress. Another aim was to develop evidence-based prototypes using System Dynamic Modeling methodology to better describe our findings.
An anonymous internet-based survey was sent through social media platforms to different social and professional networks. Multivariate analyses were used for data mining. Data were stratified by gender and further by tertiles to capture the latent variables within the patterns of interest.
Mental distress in men associated with a consumption of a Western-like diet. In women, mental wellbeing associated with a Mediterranean-like diet and lifestyle. No other patterns in both genders were linked to mental distress. Based on the generated prototypes, men are more likely to experience mental wellbeing until nutritional deficiencies arise. However, women are less likely to experience mental wellbeing until a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle are followed. In men, dietary deficiencies may have a profound effect on the limbic system; whereas dietary sufficiency in women may potentiate the mesocortical regulation of the limbic system.
Discussion and conclusion:
Our results may explain the several reports in the literature that women are at a greater risk for mental distress when compared to men and emphasize the role of a nutrient-dense diet in mental wellbeing.