Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Men And Women May Need Different Diets

Date:
July 17, 2008
Source:
University of New South Wales
Summary:
Diet can strongly influence how long you live and your reproductive success, but now scientists have discovered that what works for males can be very different for females. In the first study of its kind, the researchers have shown that gender plays a major role in determining which diet is better suited to promoting longer life or better reproductive success.

Diet can strongly influence how long you live and your reproductive success, but now scientists have discovered that what works for males can be very different for females.
Credit: iStockphoto/Leah-Anne Thompson

Diet can strongly influence how long you live and your reproductive success, but now scientists have discovered that what works for males can be very different for females.

In the first study of its kind, the researchers have shown that gender plays a major role in determining which diet is better suited to promoting longer life or better reproductive success.

In the evolutionary "battle of the sexes", traits that benefit males are costly when expressed in females and vice versa. This conflict may have implications for human diet, aging and reproduction, says a team of scientists from UNSW, the University of Sydney and Massey University.

"When it comes to choosing the right diet, we need to look more closely to the individual, their sex and their reproductive stage in life," says Associate Professor Rob Brooks, Director of the Evolution and Ecology Research Centre at the University of New South Wales. "It may be, for example, that women in their child-bearing years need a different diet to those who are post-menopausal.

"It also underlines the important lesson that what we want to eat or, if you like, what we're programmed to eat, is not necessarily best for us." The researchers are conducting long-term studies on Australian black field crickets and have discovered that the lifespan of both males and females is maximised on high-carbohydrate, low-protein diets, they say in the latest issue of Current Biology.

But reproductive success differs dramatically between the sexes when the carbohydrate-protein balance is changed: males live longest and have the greatest reproductive success with a diet that favours carbohydrates to protein by eight-to-one, whereas females have greatest success when the ratio is just one-to-one. Given a choice, however, females eat only a small amount more protein than males. The shared ability to sense and choose food dooms both males and females to eat a diet that is a compromise between what is best for each sex.

"Male and female crickets maximise their fitness on different diets," says UNSW's Dr Alexei Maklakov, the study's lead author. "Despite that, the dietary preferences of the sexes are very similar. Instead of selecting foods in a sex-specific manner, males and females select 'intermediate' diets that are less than optimal for both sexes.

The researchers believe the sexes share most of their genes and this fact can constrain the evolution of sex differences in traits such as diet choice, because many of the same genes are likely to be responsible for trait expression in both sexes.

Significance for humans -- "Men and women invest differently in reproduction, a difference that is even more marked than that between male and female crickets," says Rob Brooks. "Think of the tremendous amounts of energy and protein required of a mother in carrying a baby to term and breastfeeding. We also know that men and women need to eat different diets - think of the careful attention we pay to what expectant mothers eat.

"What men and women need to eat might be more dramatically different than we had realised. However, men and women eat very similar diets and our results suggest that our tastes and food preferences could be a shared compromise, as they are in crickets."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of New South Wales. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of New South Wales. "Men And Women May Need Different Diets." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 July 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080716121351.htm>.
University of New South Wales. (2008, July 17). Men And Women May Need Different Diets. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080716121351.htm
University of New South Wales. "Men And Women May Need Different Diets." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080716121351.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Microneedle Patch Promises Painless Pricks

Microneedle Patch Promises Painless Pricks

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 18, 2014) Researchers at The National University of Singapore have invented a new microneedle patch that could offer a faster and less painful delivery of drugs such as insulin and painkillers. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Nurse Nina Pham Arrives in Maryland

Raw: Nurse Nina Pham Arrives in Maryland

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) The first nurse to be diagnosed with Ebola at a Dallas hospital walked down the stairs of an executive jet into an ambulance at an airport in Frederick, Maryland, on Thursday. Pham will be treated at the National Institutes of Health. (Oct. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Cruise Ship Returns to US Over Ebola Fears

Raw: Cruise Ship Returns to US Over Ebola Fears

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) A Caribbean cruise ship carrying a Dallas health care worker who is being monitored for signs of the Ebola virus is heading back to Texas, US, after being refused permission to dock in Cozumel, Mexico. (Oct. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spanish Govt: Four Suspected Ebola Cases in Spain Test Negative

Spanish Govt: Four Suspected Ebola Cases in Spain Test Negative

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) All four suspected Ebola cases admitted to hospitals in Spain on Thursday have tested negative for the deadly virus in a first round of tests, the government said Friday. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins