Women may need a more nutrient-rich diet to support positive emotional wellbeing, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University at New York.
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% men and 52% women) through social media to investigate this issue.
They found that men are more likely to experience mental wellbeing until nutritional deficiencies arise. Women, however, are less likely to experience mental well-being until a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle are followed.
"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 humankind, said Begdache.
She explained that different physical and emotional responsibilities for women and men may have necessitated different energy requirements and food preference.
"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," she added.
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