A diet high in fibre could help to combat depression in pre-menopausal women, a new study has suggested.
Changes in hormone levels in perimenopausal women have been linked to depression. Researchers from the North American Menopause Society discovered a vital link between the dietary fibre intake of women in their late 30s and early 40s, and mental wellbeing.
Fibre-high foods can be found in fruit, vegetables, pulses and grains, and adults should be eating around 30g a day.
It's thought that the changes in hormone levels in pre-menopausal women can cause depression, and the condition is generally more common in women than in men.
The scientists followed more than 5,800 women of various ages and at different stages of the menopause, and examined the relationship between fibre intake and depression, with those pre-menopausal reporting a positive change in their mental health.
Depressive symptoms may have also decreased while the participants upped their fibre intake due to the interactions between the gut and the brain, as it has previously been suggested that any changes in the gut microbiota may affect neurotransmission.
However, there was no change in post-menopausal women, and the researchers claimed that depletion in estrogen may play a role in why that age group did not benefit as much from increased dietary fibre.
"Women with better mental health may have had a healthier diet and consumed more fibre, or a higher dietary fibre intake may have contributed to improved brain health by modulating the gut microbiome or some combination," study leader Dr Stephanie Faubion explained.
"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,” she said.