Researchers at Binghamton University have conducted a study that investigates the effects of nutritional deficiency on the mental well-being of individuals. The research was published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience.
Apart from this study, there are a number of studies that link diet with mental growth among individuals. This new study enumerates that this connection was stronger in women than in men.
What does the study say?
For the study, 563 participants were surveyed. 52 percent of the subjects were women while the rest were men. The survey was about their dietary patterns and mental health. The results of the study were as follow,
- Men experience mental well-being until they become deficient in certain nutrients
- Women only experienced mental well-being after following a well-balanced diet
Moreover, women were seen to observe mental health issues when they wander off healthy dietary patterns.
The researchers explain the reason for women experiencing anxiety and depression twice as compared to men. According to her the diet we acquire is high in energy but poor in key nutrients that support brain anatomy and functionality.
The reason for these different dietary effects may arise due to the difference in brain structure between men and women. The areas of brain controlling emotions are larger in men as compared to women who have more brain connections. These connections are very sensitive to the changes in the diet.
Overall, the study concludes that diet potentially affects the mental well-being, especially in women.
Foods for improving mental health
Following is a list of food items that might be beneficial for mental well-being. One must consider including them in the diet.
Our brain needs an adequate amount of glucose or carbohydrates to function properly. However, not all carbohydrates are equally good. Carbohydrates are of two types,
- Simple carbohydrates
- Complex carbohydrates
Simple carbohydrates induce effects on the brain that are similar to drugs of abuse. This is because they cause instant spikes in the blood sugar level. Thus, experts recommend complex carbohydrates like that found in whole grains.
Studies indicate that fatty fish contain polyunsaturated fatty acids known as omega-3. These fatty acids are said to improve the symptoms of,
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Moreover, fatty fishes contain nutrients that boost the production of chemicals like dopamine and serotonin that work to improve mood.
Leafy green vegetables
Spinach, romaine, and broccoli are highly nutritious leafy greens for a healthy brain. They contain high levels of folate and other B vitamins which help to prevent depression, fatigue, and insomnia. Broccoli, in particular, contains selenium that is an important mineral for hormone production, immunity, and reproduction.
Fish, turkey, chicken, eggs, and beans are good for the brain. This is because they contain lean proteins i.e. sources of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential component for the production of serotonin which is effective against mental health problems like depression and anxiety.