How Does Fiber Affect The Brain?

Clinical professionals and researchers alike recognize the role of nutrition on the brain and mental health. One nutrient that is still mysterious is fiber, a necessary carbohydrate that helps us feel full and stimulates digestion. Fiber is obtained from eating whole fruits and vegetables, as well as consuming whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and farro. In this blog post, we discuss how fiber affects the brain and why you should try to get more fiber in your diet. 

Why is eating fiber important?

During childhood, the human brain is constantly developing and growing. As we age, it is important to exercise, eat well, connect with friends and family, sleep, get out in nature, and maintain mental health to ensure optimal development.

Children and most adults in the United States often do not fulfill the standards of what is considered a healthy diet. This may put people at risk of becoming overweight, or even developing cognitive impairment later in life. Poor diet leads to nutrient deficiency, as diets high in sugar and fat may cause someone to miss a wide variety of nutrients. In particular, many people do not get enough fiber in their diet, which may cause digestive problems as well as negatively impact brain health. Eating a diet high in fiber may help people not only improve their digestion and brain development, but also ward off obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and colon cancer. 

The Journal of Nutrition studied the effect of fiber on brain health.  Researchers hypothesized that there may be an association between fiber intake and cognitive development. Researchers studied the diets of children ages 7-9, with help from the parents to keep track of their food intake. Each child’s height, weight, body mass index, and bone mass were also recorded. In addition to the food intake information, researchers had the children perform the Flanker Task to assess inhibitory control.

Researchers found that children who had adequate fiber intake performed better on the Flanker Task than children who consumed a less healthy diet.  The researchers concluded that “ higher daily intake of total and insoluble fibers was related to accuracy in both the congruent and incongruent trials [of the Flanker Task] ”.  With these results, the researchers established a positive correlation between consuming a healthy diet and cognitive functioning. From this study, it can be concluded that eating a healthy diet may also translate to better cognitive functioning in children.

Conclusion

Eating fiber is an important part of maintaining one’s health. Fiber is often thought to be needed just for digestion, but research shows it may play a role in cognitive development in children. Fiber consumption has a wide range of health benefits, which are not limited to reducing the risk of developing obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. If you are thinking about adding more fiber to your diet, you may want to try including more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your diet. Along with great exercise, sleep, and mental health practices, one may improve their cognitive functioning by also eating well. 

Margaret Davis

Margaret Davis is a junior studying advertising at Temple University. She is thrilled to be joining the HappyNeuron Pro team as the Content Marketing Intern. With her previous experience working on PR and Social Media campaigns, Margaret hopes to bring a variety of skills to the team.

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