WASHINGTON — New research from Binghamton University at the State University of New York has revealed that women’s mental health likely has a higher association with dietary factors than men. The paper, ‘Customization of Diet May Promote Exercise and Improve Mental Wellbeing in Mature Adults: The Role of Exercise as a Mediator,’ was published in the Journal of Personalized Medicine.

Lina Begdache, assistant professor of health and wellness studies at Binghamton University, had previously published research on diet and mood that suggests that a high-quality diet improves mental health. She wanted to test whether customization of diet improves mood among men and women ages 30 or older.

Along with research assistant Cara M. Patrissy, Begdache dissected the different food groups associated with mental distress in men and women ages 30 years and older and studied the different dietary patterns concerning exercise frequency mental anguish.

The results suggest that women’s mental health has a higher association with dietary factors than men’s. Mental distress and exercise frequency were associated with different nutritional and lifestyle patterns, which support customized diet and lifestyle factors to improve mental wellbeing.

“We found a general relationship between eating healthy, following healthy dietary practices, exercise, and mental wellbeing,” said Begdache. “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 mature women, said Begdache. “Fast food, skipping breakfast, caffeine and high-glycemic food are all associated with mental distress in mature women.”

According to data published by the National Institute of Mental Health, there were an estimated 51.5 million adults aged 18 and older with a mental illness in 2019. This equated to 20.6 percent of all adults in the United States. Women (24.5 percent) were found to have a higher prevalence of a mental illness than men (16.3 percent).

“Fruits and dark green leafy vegetables (DGLV) are associated with mental wellbeing. The extra information we learned from this study is that exercise significantly reduced the negative association of high-glycemic food and fast food with mental distress,” added Begadache.

This research provides the framework needed for healthcare professionals for customizing dietary plans to promote exercise and improve mental wellbeing in mature adults, said Begdache.

It could also provide a new perspective for the research community when assessing the role of diet on mental distress. The researchers are conducting a parallel study with young men and women, looking at diet quality and sleep and seasonal change variables from a longitudinal perspective.

(With inputs from ANI)

(Edited by Anindita Ghosh and Ojaswin Kathuria)



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