Diet link to mental health
Women are often advised to eat well all the time, and there’s a reason for it.
As compared to men, a study has found that diet has a bigger impact on a female’s emotional well-being.
New research from Binghamton University in New York has shown there is a link between mental health and diet.
Astonishingly, the study has found that women are less likely than men to experience positive mental well-being until they’ve achieved a balanced diet.
On the other hand, men are more likely to experience good mental health until nutritional deficiencies arise.
According to lead researcher Lina Begdache, assistant professor of health and wellness studies at the university, the findings are in line with research which shows that women are at a higher risk of poor psychological health than men.
Begdache led a team of researchers to conduct an anonymous survey of 563 participants (48% men and 52% women) through social media to investigate this issue.
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.
“The biggest takeaway is that women may need a larger spectrum of nutrients to support mood, compared to men,” said Begdache.
A local nutritionist Nepheritie Jade agrees with the findings.
“Women have special needs compared to men, so, their daily nutritional needs are different based on hormones and whether or not they are breastfeeding,” said Jade.
She added that diet and mental well-being also need to be prioritised for a woman’s holistic wellness. “There’s a strong link between good mental health and good physical health and vice versa,” said Jade.
A 2014 study in Brain, Behaviour, and Immunity that used data from the Nurses’ Health study, found an association between depression and a diet rich in sugar-sweetened soft drinks, refined grains and red meat.
Similarly, a 2018 meta-analysis published in the European Journal of Nutrition suggested that high consumption of meat could be associated with the risk of developing depression.
However, at this point, there are so many different factors associated with depression, which makes it difficult to determine just what type of food or dietary pattern affects or exacerbates the risk.
Gregor Klassen, a food technologist from Food Lover’s Market, says to ensure that everyone gets their much-need nutrition, they need to ensure they have their six essential nutritional elements.
Carbohydrates such as cereals, bread, pasta, rice and potatoes provide energy.
Proteins in fish, meat, beans, pulses and dairy products are necessary for growth and repair in the body.
Fats found in butter, oil and nuts provide energy and is also responsible for storing energy in the body and insulating it against the cold.
Vitamins are found in dairy foods, fruit and vegetables and are needed in small amounts to maintain good health.
Water is needed to hydrate the body and regenerate the cells.
Lastly, fibre is found in vegetables and bran and provides roughage, which is needed to keep food moving through the gut, suggests Klassen.