The key to reducing your depression risk could be fiber, study says

New research shows this is especially the case with premenopausal women

Many studies have been conducted to analyze treatments for depression that go beyond using antidepressants, and a new one has found a link between dietary fiber and reduced risk of the mental health disorder.

A study published online last month in the journal, Menopause, aimed to review the association between dietary fiber consumption and depression in premenopausal and postmenopausal women. The study used data from a national Korean population-based survey.

Researchers involved 5,807 women in the study. It was found that dietary fiber intake for premenopausal women was greater in the nondepression group than the depression group of women. No noticeable difference was found in postmenopausal women.

After adjusting for other variables, the study validated an inverse link between dietary-fiber consumption and depression in premenopausal women.

As for why postmenopausal women don’t benefit as much from enhanced dietary fiber, research has suggested that estrogen deficiency may be a factor. This is because estrogen influences the balance of gut microorganisms found in premenopausal and postmenopausal women.

Dietary fiber’s tie to depression could be explained in part by interactions between the gut and the brain because it is hypothesized that changes in gut microbiota composition may alter neurotransmission. Gut microbiota’s richness and diversity are enhanced by fiber.

“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,” NAMS medical director Dr. Stephanie Faubion said.

“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.”

Depression is a common and serious mood disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. The agency reported that for some, it can lead to severe impairments that can interfere with or limit the ability to conduct major life pursuits.