Adding more fibre to the diet is linked to a lower risk of depression.
Dietary fibre is mostly found in legumes, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
Fibre is commonly recommended for a healthy diet as it reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancer.
But it has also repeatedly been linked to a lower risk of depression.
The latest findings come from a study of almost 6,000 pre- and post-menopausal women.
The results showed that in pre-menopausal women higher fibre intake was linked to a lower risk of depression.
The link was not, however, seen in post-menopausal women.
Higher fibre intake improves the diversity and richness of the gut’s microbiota.
Dr. Stephanie Faubion, director of the The North American Menopause Society, said:
“This study highlights an important link between dietary fiber intake and depression, but the direction of the association is unclear in this observational study, such that women with better mental health may have had a healthier diet and consumed more fiber, or a higher dietary fiber intake may have contributed to improved brain health by modulating the gut microbiome or some combination.
Nonetheless, it has never been more true that ‘you are what you eat,’ given that what we eat has a profound effect on the gut microbiome which appears to play a key role in health and disease.”
Diet and mental health
Hundreds of studies have linked a better diet with improved mental health.
For example, studies have shown a link between a diet rich in vegetables, nuts, fruits and fish and a lower risk of depression.
Raw fruits and vegetables in particular have been linked to better mental health.
Reducing the intake of common inflammatory foods including fast food, cake and processed meats reduces the risk of depression.
Similarly, cutting down on refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, white rice and soda, may lower depression risk.
All sorts of positive dietary changes, including weight loss, fat reduction and nutrient boosting diets, have been shown to improve mental health.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Menopause (Kim et al., 2020).