Eating a diet rich in dietary fiber — the parts of plant-based foods that can’t be digested — is very beneficial for your health.
It’s pretty easy to do too, especially if you like nuts, fruits, legumes like chickpeas and lentils, popcorn (skip the movie theater butter), oats, seeds and even dark chocolate.
However, these benefits rely on the bacteria in your gut being healthy, diverse and working as it should to digest dietary fiber and produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate.
As we’ve learned previously, the production of butyrate increases the use of oxygen, protecting your gut from Salmonella, E. coli and other harmful pathogens.
Eating more dietary fiber may also protect your brain from inflammation that steals memories and impairs normal functioning due to aging, according to a recent study from the University of Illinois’ College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Science (ACES) that appeared in Frontiers in Immunology.
Knowing they were already on the right track in previous studies with a drug-based form of butyrate (sodium butyrate), scientists used dietary fiber in hopes of achieving similar results with older mice.
First, researchers fed young and older mice low- and high-fiber diets, then measured levels of butyrate and other SCFAs in their blood along with inflammatory chemicals in their intestines.
No surprise, feeding both age groups a high-fiber diet boosted their production of SCFAs and butyrate, and intestinal inflammation was reduced so dramatically there was no noticeable differences between both sets of mice.
The ACES team of researchers discovered the brain benefits of a high-fiber diet when they examined 50 unique genes in the microglia (cells located in the brain and spinal cord).
In older mice, the presence of extra butyrate inhibited the amount of harmful chemicals produced by inflamed microglia, including interleukin-1 beta that’s been linked to Alzheimer’s disease in humans.
It doesn’t take much dietary fiber to make a difference in your health. For example, eating just 1 extra ounce (about 30 grams) of dietary fiber a day can relieve constipation, reduce your risks of cardiovascular problems and help you lose weight too, in addition to these newly discovered brain benefits.
Taking a product like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, with 10 strains of beneficial bacteria (plus a prebiotic), helps your gut process that extra fiber you’ll be eating more efficiently for improved brain health.