Nutrition and human health from a sex-gender perspective

Mol Aspects Med. 2011 Feb;32(1):1-70. doi: 10.1016/j.mam.2011.02.001. Epub 2011 Feb 26.


Nutrition exerts a life-long impact on human health, and the interaction between nutrition and health has been known for centuries. The recent literature has suggested that nutrition could differently influence the health of male and female individuals. Until the last decade of the 20th century, research on women has been neglected, and the results obtained in men have been directly translated to women in both the medicine and nutrition fields. Consequently, most modern guidelines are based on studies predominantly conducted on men. However, there are many sex-gender differences that are the result of multifactorial inputs, including gene repertoires, sex steroid hormones, and environmental factors (e.g., food components). The effects of these different inputs in male and female physiology will be different in different periods of ontogenetic development as well as during pregnancy and the ovarian cycle in females, which are also age dependent. As a result, different strategies have evolved to maintain male and female body homeostasis, which, in turn, implies that there are important differences in the bioavailability, metabolism, distribution, and elimination of foods and beverages in males and females. This article will review some of these differences underlying the impact of food components on the risk of developing diseases from a sex-gender perspective.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Food
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Pregnancy
  • Sex Factors