Researchers have found that those who consume more fiber have a lower incidence of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And those who consume more fruits and vegetables have a lower incidence of anxiety and depression.
Plant fiber yields a number of benefits, including cardiovascular health and digestive health. Fiber also helps reduce the risk of breast cancer and reduces the risk of diabetes among children. Surprisingly, it also reduces the harmful effects of second-hand smoking.
In this article
What is fiber?
Fiber is often thought of as a supplement, like psyllium husk from a bottle. These forms of fiber, however, actually offer very little fiber compared to the amount of fiber offered by raw fruits and vegetables.
The best known form of edible fiber comes from the cellulose content in plants. But there are other forms of healthy fiber. Fiber can be divided generally into two types: Soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber is called this because it will not dissolve in water. This also makes it difficult for the digestive enzymes in the stomach and upper intestines to break them down.
Insoluble fiber comes in the form of cellulose, wheat bran, and lignans.
Soluble fiber, which can dissolve in water, is often fermented by the gut’s probiotics. That is, with some exceptions. Examples of soluble fiber include psyllium, beta-glucans from mushrooms, oats and barley, inulin, oligosaccharides, resistant starch and guar gum.
Many dietary fibers are fermented by probiotics in the gut. By fermented, we mean that our gut’s probiotics utilize them as nutrient sources, resulting in probiotic colony (CFU) expansion.
Fiber and PTSD
In a 2021 study, researchers from the University of Toronto and the University of Hawaii analyzed the data from 27,211 Canadians. The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) study revealed much about the health and lifestyle among those with a broad Western Diet.
The researchers screened that data to investigate those adults who were middle-aged to older who had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Then the researchers investigated these folks with regard to their diets and lifestyles. They screened out the influences relating to various socioeconomics and health.
The researchers found PTSD was higher among those who had lower incomes, those who were widowed or divorced, or separated.
PTSD was also more prevalent among those who were smokers at some point. Also those with multiple chronic health conditions and chronic pain were more likely to have PTSD.
Nutritionally, there was also a definite trend among those with PTSD. PTSD sufferers were more likely to have poor nutrition. They were also ate more pastries and chocolates. PTSD sufferers were also more likely to have more weight in the mid-section.
Furthermore, those who included at least two or three sources of fiber in their daily diet were significantly less likely to have PTSD.
Notably, these nutritional issues are connected, because pastries and chocolates and other foods of lower nutrient quality are also absent of fiber.
Foods with greater fiber not only render better probiotic colonies. They also typically have significant quantities of nutrients because fiber-rich foods are more minimally processed.
When foods are separated from their fibers during processing, those processing practices also tend to exert more heat and light, destroying many of the micronutrients that the body needs to facilitate cognitive functions.
They also help our bowel movements and capture toxins, reducing toxin release in the bloodstream.
Depression, Anxiety and Nutrition
The brain is our body’s biggest user of glucose and nutrients by far. The brain cells require constant stimulation in the form of nutrition-rich red blood cells.
Our moods, related to the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, are also related to our nutrition according to the research.
This is not the only study that has made these connections. A 2019 study by some of the same researchers investigated depression and nutrition. Again they used the same Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging study data of more than 27,000 people.
This time the researchers found that those who ate less fruits and vegetables had significantly more incidence of depression. And conversely, those who ate more fiber-rich fruits and vegetables had significantly less incidence of depression.
This study also found that hypertension, chocolates, snacks and smoking were linked to a higher risk of depression among the Canadians.
Similarly, the same researchers also investigated anxiety with this same study group of Canadians. This study showed that less fruit and vegetable consumption and greater pastry consumption were linked with greater incidence of anxiety among the large population of middle-aged folks.
This study also linked smoking and other nutritional components with higher incidence of anxiety.
The bottom line is that our choice of diet directly affects our moods, cognition and brain processes. Symptoms of PTSD often include depression and anxiety. And all three are linked to we eat. A greater consumption of fresh, fiber-rich plant-based foods now has been proven to decrease the incidence of these conditions.
Davison KM, Hyland CE, West ML, Lin SL, Tong H, Kobayashi KM, Fuller-Thomson E. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in mid-age and older adults differs by immigrant status and ethnicity, nutrition, and other determinants of health in the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA). Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2021 Feb 3. doi: 10.1007/s00127-020-02003-7.
Davison KM, Lung Y, Lin SL, Tong H, Kobayashi KM, Fuller-Thomson E. Depression in middle and older adulthood: the role of immigration, nutrition, and other determinants of health in the Canadian longitudinal study on aging. BMC Psychiatry. 2019 Nov 6;19(1):329. doi: 10.1186/s12888-019-2309-y.
Davison KM, Lin SL, Tong H, Kobayashi KM, Mora-Almanza JG, Fuller-Thomson E. Nutritional Factors, Physical Health and Immigrant Status Are Associated with Anxiety Disorders among Middle-Aged and Older Adults: Findings from Baseline Data of The Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA). Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Feb 26;17(5):1493. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17051493.