Natural Health News — Women may need a more nutrient-rich diet to support a positive emotional well-being, according to new research.
According to a team of US scientists, mounting evidence suggests that anatomical and functional differences in men’s and women’s brains influence susceptibility to mental health problems. However, little is known about the role of dietary patterns in gender-specific psychological wellbeing.
To find out more, a team of researchers led by Lina Begdache, assistant professor of health and wellness studies at Binghamton University, State University at New York, conducted an anonymous survey of 563 participants (48% men and 52% women) through social media to investigate this issue.
Writing in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience, 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.
Gender differences go deep
“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 Dr Begdache.
“Males and females had different physical and emotional responsibilities that may have necessitated different energy requirements and food preference.”
Dr Begdache said that, as a result, gender-based differences in food and energy intake may explain the differences in brain volumes and connectivity between females and males.
According to Begdache, these results may also 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.
Mediterranean diet is supportive
“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.”
The research suggests that polyphenols, omega-3 oils and folate are particularly beneficial for women. These nutrients are found in abundance, they note, in the Mediterranean diet.
“Beans (high in polyphenols) and fish (rich in omega-3 fats) intakes, specifically, associated with increased cortical thickness.” said Begdache who notes that polyphenols have an active role to play in normal brain signalling and neurological health.
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