Stress can impact our health on multiple levels. However, a recent study suggests that eating foods that are high in fiber can help protect our digestive system from the side effects of stress. Previous research has exhibited that long-term stress can negatively affect our overall health, but especially the brain and the gut. Changes to our gut bacteria due to stress has been linked to a variety of disorders such as anxiety, depression, and gut disorders like irritable bowel syndrome.
Researchers found that foods that are high in fiber like whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetable create short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs are very important to gut bacteria. When the bacteria in our digestive system digest fiber the cells of the colon use the SCFAs as a source of energy, which helps to promote good gut health.
SCFAs help to build a stronger gut wall and prevent and even reverse leaky gut syndrome, which is when tiny holes are evident in the intestinal wall that allows undigested food particles and bacteria to escape into the bloodstream.
The key to keeping our the digestive system health is to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans, and whole greens. All of these foods have also proved to aid in the prevention of other disorders like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and bowel cancer.
High fiber foods not only help prevent complications and illnesses but help protect the body from stress-induced diseases and reduce anxiety and depression. Although stress is a mental state, it can physically affect our gastrointestinal system. One study revealed that high levels of stress can affect the bacteria in our intestines the same way a high-fat diet would.
Up until now, the importance of SCFAs in digestive health was poorly understood. With this recent discovery, we are given a key insight on how stress, gut bacteria, and brain health all interact with one another. By increasing your intake of high fiber foods, you will not only boost your digestive and mental health but protect yourself from the long-term effects of stress.