High Fibre Diet Could Reduce Stress
A study has found that following a diet that is high in fibre could help reduce stress and anxiety.
It is thought that the gut affects the brain and so eating more fibre might help the gut and therefore protect against stress, anxiety and depression.
Small-chain fatty acids
Researchers from University College Cork and Teagasc Food Research Centre in Ireland looked at the role of ‘small-chain fatty acids’. These molecules are produced when the digestive system breaks down fibre in food.
The research involved looking at the beneficial effects of these molecules on the brain. Previous research has shown that these molecules can keep the metabolism and immune system healthy.
Stress and anxiety
The researchers gave 40 mice supplements containing short-chain fatty acids. They then analysed stress levels in the mice and the amount of healthy microbes in their gut.
The results showed that behaviours linked to stress and anxiety were significantly reduced in the mice.
The results of the study have been published in The Journal of Physiology and appear to demonstrate a link between short-chain fatty acids and a healthier gut, and that this can in turn reduce stress and anxiety.
More research however is needed. One of the authors, Professor John F Cryan, said: “It will be crucial that we look at whether short-chain fatty acids can ameliorate symptoms of stress-related disorders in humans.”
Health benefits of fibre
Fibre is known to be beneficial in a number of ways, including reducing the risk of heart disease, bowel cancer and diabetes.
Previous studies have also found that women who eat high amounts of fibre, and in particular fruit and vegetables, have a lower risk of breast cancer. According to one study, women who ate more fibre in early adulthood were 16% less likely to get breast cancer, and that every 10g of fibre that women ate each day cut the risk by 13%.
The recommended daily amount of fibre that adults should eat is 30g. Fibre-rich foods include wholegrain breakfast cereals, wholegrain bread, oranges, broccoli, carrots, beans, pulses, nuts and seeds.
There are some simple ways that fibre content can be increased in the diet, such as keeping the skins on potatoes and choosing wholewheat pasta rather than white pasta.
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