Fiber is a commonly recommended part of a healthy diet. Because it’s good for your health in so many ways — from weight management to reducing your risk of diabetes, heart disease and some types of cancer. A new study also found that it may be associated with a reduced risk of depression, especially in premenopausal women. Study results are published online MenopauseJournal of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS).
Depression is a common and serious mental health condition that not only affects a person’s ability to perform daily tasks but can also lead to suicide. It is estimated that more than 264 million people worldwide have depression, with the number increasing over time. This debilitating condition is much more common in women, and there are several theories as to why it occurs. Changes in hormone levels in perimenopausal women have been linked to depression.
Due to the serious consequences and prevalence of depression, numerous studies have been conducted to evaluate treatment options beyond the use of antidepressants. Lifestyle interventions including diet, exercise and mindfulness can help reduce the risk of depression. In this new study involving more than 5,800 women of various ages, the researchers specifically sought to investigate the relationship between dietary fiber intake and depression in women by menopausal status. Dietary fiber is mainly found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
Previous studies have already suggested benefits of fiber for mental health, but this is the first known study to categorize the association between premenopausal and postmenopausal women. It also included a wide range of participant ages and involved women who had undergone natural, as well as surgical, menopause.
The study confirmed an inverse association between dietary-fiber intake and depression among premenopausal women after adjusting for other variables, but documented no significant differences among postmenopausal women. Research suggests that decreased estrogen may explain why postmenopausal women do not benefit as much from increased dietary fiber, as estrogen affects the balance of gut microbiota found in premenopausal and postmenopausal women. The link between dietary fiber and depression may be partly explained by gut-brain interactions, as it is theorized that changes in gut-microbiota composition may affect neurotransmission. Fiber improves the richness and diversity of the gut microbiota.
The findings are published in the article “Inverse Association Between Dietary Fiber Intake and Depression in Premenopausal Women: A Nationwide Population-Based Study.”
“This study highlights an important link between dietary fiber intake and depression, but the direction of the association in these observational studies is unclear, such as whether women with better mental health had a healthier diet and consumed more fiber, or whether the gut microbiome was affected by higher dietary fiber intake. or some combination may contribute to improving brain health by modulating it. Nevertheless, what we eat appears to have a profound effect on the gut microbiome, such that ‘you are what you eat’ has never been truer than this. Important roles in health and disease. observes,” said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, NAMS Medical Director.