Women's mental health could be more affected by diet than men's, a new study has found.
Experts from Binghamton University analysed whether changing what we eat could improve the mood of men and women aged 30 or older.
The study also looked at different dietary patterns and how they are linked to mental distress and exercise habits. Data collected showed that women's mental health has a higher association with dietary factors, supporting the idea of customising lifestyle and eating habits to improve mental wellbeing.
"We found a general relationship between eating healthy, following healthy dietary practices, exercise and mental wellbeing," said Lina Begdache, assistant professor of health and wellness studies at Binghamton University. "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."
The study also highlighted some unhealthy dietary habits to avoid, such as snacking on sugary foods or having too much caffeine.
Experts are now suggesting diet and exercise could be a useful tool in combating early signs of mental distress in older women.
"Fast food, skipping breakfast, caffeine and high-glycemic (HG) food are all associated with mental distress in mature women," Begdache explained.
"Fruits and dark green leafy vegetables (DGLV) are associated with mental well-being. The extra information we learned from this study is that exercise significantly reduced the negative association of HG food and fast food with mental distress."
Scientists are also currently carrying out research into how younger men and women are impacted by dietary habits as well as seasonal changes and sleep.
The study was published in the Journal of Personalized Medicine.