Women's mental health likely has a higher link with dietary factors than men's, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.
The researchers’ previous study on diet and mood suggested that a high-quality diet improves mental health. They now wanted to test whether customization of diet improves mood among men and women ages 30 or older.
The team dissected the different food groups associated with mental distress in men and women ages 30 years and older, as well as studied different dietary patterns in relation to exercise frequency and mental distress.
The results suggest that women's mental health is more closely tied to diet than that of men. Mental distress and exercise frequency were associated with different dietary and lifestyle patterns, which support the concept of customizing diet and lifestyle factors to improve mental wellbeing.
"We found a general relationship between eating healthy, following healthy dietary practices, exercise and mental well-being," said the lead researcher. "Interestingly, we found that for unhealthy dietary patterns, the level of mental distress was higher in women than in men, which confirmed that women are more susceptible to unhealthy eating than men."
Based on this study and others, diet and exercise may be the first line of defense against mental distress in women, the researchers said.
Fast food, skipping breakfast, caffeine and high-glycemic foods were all associated with mental distress in women, whereas truits and dark green leafy vegetables were associated with mental well-being. The study also found that exercise significantly reduced the negative association of high glycemic foods and fast food with mental distress.
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