A study led by Dr. Lina Begdache, an assistant professor at Binghamton University, investigated the effects of nutritional deficiency on mental well-being. To do this, they surveyed 563 participants, 52 percent of whom were women while the rest were men, regarding their dietary patterns and mental health. From this, they found that men experienced mental well-being until they become deficient in certain nutrients. Conversely, women only experienced mental well-being after following a well-balanced diet. They were also more likely to experience mental health problems when they strayed from healthy dietary patterns.
“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,” said Dr. Begdache.
The team attributed these changes to a difference in brain structure between men and women. When it comes to the areas that control emotions, men tend to have a larger brain volume while women have more brain connections. These connections are easily affected by changes in diet since the different nutrients that are crucial for forming them come from a wide range of foods. On the contrary, brain volume is not easily affected by diet and it takes a longer for it to change.
Overall, the results of this study suggest that diet has great potential in treating mental health problems, especially in women.
When it comes to improving mental health, certain diets might work differently for different people. So, a better approach would be knowing what specific foods are beneficial for mental well-being. The following are some examples of nutrient-dense foods that you should consider including in your diet:
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