Depression has gripped millions of people around the globe in its tight clutches. It is estimated that over 280 million people struggle with depression worldwide. A leading cause of disability globally, depression is a major contributor to the global burden of disease and, at its worst, can even lead to suicide. This debilitating condition encumbers countless to even get out of bed and perform their daily activities. In addition, due to hormonal changes in women, they are more vulnerable to depression than men.
Lack of cure and sustainable treatments have stirred scientists worldwide to undertake studies and research to find treatment options beyond antidepressants. According to a recent study involving more than 5800 women, a high-fibre diet can lead to a reduced risk of depression, especially in premenopausal women. There is no denying that the food we eat can affect our mood, physical and mental health. Let us understand how a high-fibre diet can help lower depression risk.
What is Dietary Fibre?
Dietary fibre, commonly known as roughage, is derived from indigestible parts of plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. It is a type of carbohydrate made up of sugar molecules linked together. Since fibre cannot be broken down by our body, it passes down intact through our stomach and intestines. Insoluble fibre is known to aid in the digestive process, helps curb appetite, control blood sugar, lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart diseases. Several studies also attest to its inverse relationship with mental health issues such as depression.
The Relation Between Gut and Brain Health
The link between fibre and depression can be explained by the interaction between the gut and brain. Fibre is said to improve the richness and diversity of gut microbiota which affects neurotransmission. Since 90% of the body’s serotonin, a neurotransmitter known to prevent depression, is produced in the gut, a high-fibre diet can increase serotonin levels. To put it succinctly, a high-fibre diet improves serotonin production, which further elevates emotional and mental health. If by paying attention to what’s at the end of your fork you can keep grave ailments like depression at bay, it might be best to include fibre in your daily diet.
Also, Read: Diet of Kids with Cystic Fibrosis
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
Since there is currently no cure for depression and treatments are either expensive or unsustainable in the long run, it is best to prevent the onset of depression. While there is nothing inherently wrong with antidepressants and therapy, drugs can have severe side effects in the long run. As a result, it is better to look at other healthy options such as dietary changes, regular exercise, meditation, and mindfulness. Opting for a high-fibre diet can help lower depression risk and the occurrence of depression symptoms. It is a much better option to never have depression rather than having it and treating it.
High-Fibre Foods to Include in Your Diet
There is a wide variety of high-fibre foods that are easily available in all parts of the world. Rich sources of fibre include fruits like apple, orange, banana, berries and green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables. Whole grains like oats, barley, wheat, legumes like beans, lentils, peas, nuts, and seeds, different sources of bran like wheat bran, rice bran and corn bran are also packed with dietary fibre. Even avocado, dark chocolate, quinoa and artichokes can help fulfill daily fibre requirements. Just consuming one or two extra servings of fibre-rich foods can help enrich a regular diet with dietary fibre and keep depression at bay.
How Much Dietary Fibre to Eat in a Day?
It is recommended to consume at least 25-30 grams of fibre each day. For maximum health benefits, it is best to increase your fibre intake. Men aged 50 or younger should consume 38 grams daily, whereas women aged 50 or younger should take 25 grams. For men older than 50 years, 30 grams is advisable, and for women over 51, a daily intake of 21 grams is sufficient. Of these, 10 to 15 grams of daily dietary fibre should be a soluble fibre that comes from fruits, vegetables and seeds. It is best to include a variety of fibre-rich foods in your diet and make sure that they are fresh and not canned or processed.
To fight disease as prevalent and detrimental as depression, consistent and unified efforts must be made. If by making improvements to diet with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, exercising regularly and improving mindfulness, the risk of depression can be lowered, then there is no easier way. We must not forget ‘we are what we eat’. By providing the body and brain with the right nutrients and resources, one can encourage proper brain function and improve physical, emotional and mental health.
Also, Read: 5 Must-Have Fruits on your Baby’s Summer Diet