Hey Angels and Alphas,
We (and the entire weight loss world) have talked a lot about fiber over the last few months, and with good reason. Fiber is basically essential when it comes to promoting satiety and blood sugar regulation, it improves your body’s ability to digest food, and goes a long way to supporting your weight loss efforts.
The recommended daily intake of fiber is about 25 grams for women and 30-35 grams for men. This roughly equates to about to half a cup (or about 70 grams) of high-fiber cereal, half a cup (about 120 grams) of beans, a pear, and half a cup (100 grams) of mixed veggies every single day.
Now, there are plenty of good reasons why you would want more fiber in your diet, but science has recently discovered another one. Fiber could actually help you improve your mood (and maintain an overall better mood,) which makes it a secret weapon for both your everyday life and your weight loss efforts.
In a recent study, high intakes of dietary fiber were directly linked to lower risks of depression – and that’s big.
Here’s how the research went…
Researchers basically analyzed the dietary habits of almost 6,000 women, and what they found was that premenopausal women who consumed more fiber than others were less likely to experience symptoms of depression than the women who didn’t consume as much fiber.
Essentially, the study showed that every 1-gram increase of fiber intake per every 1,000 calories was associated with a 5 percent decrease in the prevalence of depression amongst participants. That’s huge!
Researchers noted that they believe the most important finding in their study was that dietary fiber was inversely linked to depression in premenopausal women, but not postmenopausal women. That’s what study lead Dr. Yunsun Kim noted, who is also the study author and resident in the department of family medicine at the Chung-Ang Hospital in South Korea.
The study was basically looking for modifiable factors that could help women prevent depression (especially in those women who were more vulnerable to it,) and lucky for them, that’s exactly what they found.
The researchers, however, did not find a connection between fiber intake and the risk of depression in postmenopausal women. They believe this is because hormone levels may have played a huge factor in this.
Previous studies on the topic have indicated that there might be a connection and even interaction between the gut microbiota and the hormone estrogen. And because post-menopausal women experience depletions of estrogen, the lowered interaction between the gut microbiota and estrogen was supposedly related to the insignificant link between dietary fiber and depression in women post-menopause.
So how does this research fit into the big picture of weight loss?
For the longest time, studies and researchers have found that what happens in the gut has a major influence on the brain. There’s an inverse relationship between depression and dietary fiber that is likely explained by the interactions that occur between the gut and the brain. When a change occurs in the composition of the gut microbiota, this affects neurotransmissions and other various neuro-psychiatric experiences in the brain.
Certain carbs and fibers called oligosaccharides, more commonly known as prebiotics, do their job in feeding the “positive” bacteria in your gut and promote the health and well-being of your entire gut microbiome.
And with an increasing prevalence of depression, which obviously contributes to the global disease burden, these study findings could potentially form the basis of bigger investigations that determine the causal relationship between depression and dietary fiber.
And with the direct causal link between depression and weight gain, it’s no secret to anyone why fiber could potentially play such a massive role in achieving our weight loss goals.
More research is needed – but when hasn’t more research been needed? What we know for sure is that it’s vital to have a well-balanced diet that doesn’t shy away from fiber-rich foods.
The more nutrient-dense your diet is, the more likely it is to be associated with healthier, more diverse gut microbiomes and better health outcomes such as brain health, weight loss, and more – though the connection is still being investigated.
This study, in particular, found the first out of many possible links between fiber intake and mood, but it could be just that people who had a healthier diet had overall better mental health.
For now, though, researchers advise you to follow the daily fiber intake recommendations regardless of your menopausal status.
If you want to add more fiber to your diet (which you should,) choose whole foods and whole grains over refined grains and trans fats anytime that’s possible. Consume more fruits and veggies with every single meal. Reach out for seeds and nuts when you’re snacking instead of processed snacks, and then don’t forget to add plant-based protein sources such as chickpeas and beans to your menu.