High Fiber Foods

Healthy dinner plate

Diets are no different than fashion trends. They gain popularity, become exhausted by the public, disappear and then cycle back decades later. However, as blue becomes the new black and the A-listers bring back chokers, there will always be a staple like blue jeans that remain. 

In the case of dieting, fiber is our reliable blue jeans. While the importance of a fibrous diet is known, a January study published by the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) details new insight on an unknown benefit of fiber in a healthy diet. In premenopausal women, high fiber intake is a combatant of depression.

Depression hinders the lives of over 264 million people globally. While the cause has not been pinpointed, the mental condition is more common in women. Many researchers are led to believe that premenopausal hormone changes are the main contributor in increasing female susceptibility to depression. Researchers from Chung-ang University Hospital in Seoul, South Korea enlisted more than 5,800 women to complete the Korea National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey, which monitors dietary fiber intake, and collects Patient Health Questionnaire, which uses9 scores to assess depression. The association between the two tests was apparent. Their data reveal an inverse relationship between a high-fiber diet and depression rates. In other words, a high-fiber diet correlated with a reduced prevalence of depression.

These results can be explained by the fact that fibrous foods such as fruits, vegetables and nuts provide a richness to the gut microbiota, the bacteria in the digestive tract. This enables an overall smoother digestion process. Previous research supporting gut-brain interactions states that diversity in the gut microbiota affects neurotransmission. This knowledge combined with higher estrogen levels in premenopausal women dictate the strength of impact the gut has on neurotransmitters. High estrogen levels are not nearly as prevalent in postmenopausal women, which explains why specifically premenopausal women need a fibrous diet to best manipulate their gut-brain activity.

Fiber in a healthy diet aids in a long list of biological functions, such as weight management and prevention of heart disease and numerous types of cancer. To make the food group even more appealing, it is now understood to combat depression in women. So, the moral of the story is to never doubt the power of your blue jeans.

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