Eat High Fibre Foods for Lower Stress Levels

Eat High Fibre Foods for Lower Stress Levels

By Trudi Purdy, wlr team

Key Takeaways

  • Long term stress can have serious effects on our gut health and our behaviour
  • High fibre foods could help reduce stress levels and the damage they cause to our gut


In today’s busy society, stress has become a significant health concern.

There has been growing interest into the apparent link between gut bacteria and anxiety, depression and other stress related issues.

Over long periods of time it can cause the barrier between the gut and the rest of the body to become ‘leaky’.

This, in turn, means undigested particles, bacteria and germs can get through the leaky gut wall and cause issues.

During a new study, researchers from the University of Cork and Teagasc Foods found that the leaky gut wall could be reversed with short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and they helped to lower stress levels.

What Are SCFAs?

Short-chain fatty acids are produced by friendly bacteria in your gut and are the main nutrition for cells in that area of the body.

SCFAs are produced when fibre ferments in your colon.

They act as a source of energy for the cells lining the colon but are also used to help metabolise important nutrients like carbs and fat.

Eating a lot of fibre-rich food like legumes, fruit and vegetables is linked to increases in the amount of SCFAs in your gut.


This study involved feeding mice the main SCFAs that are normally produced by our gut bacteria. They then subjected the mice to stress and used behavioural tests to assess them for anxiety, depression, stress responsiveness, cognition and sociability.

The results showed that stress levels could be decreased with the SCFAs.

These results help provide new insights into gut health and the impact of gut bacteria on the brain and behaviour.

How the SCFAs have the effect they do on gut bacteria and, in turn, stress levels, is not yet completely understood so more studies are needed in this area. Understanding their role is important.

Corresponding author, Professor John F Cryan said,

‘There is a growing recognition of the role of gut bacteria and the chemicals they make in the regulation of physiology and behaviour.

He went on to say,

‘The role of short-chain fatty acids in this process is poorly understood up until now. It will be crucial that we look at whether short-chain fatty acids can ameliorate symptoms of stress-related disorders in humans.’

Adding more fruit, veg and legumes to your diet could mean your gut copes better during stressful times and lower your levels of stress. More of these kinds of food in your diet also brings plenty of other benefits like helping to fill you up, keeping you fuller for longer etc.

So, while the scientists work out more benefits for us, trying to add more fibre into your diet can’t be a bad thing can it? We have created a high fibre 7 day diet plan to help you get more fibre. You can follow this plan, using all of the meals in it or you can mix and match this with one of our other eating plans.

Why not take a look at the eating plans we have available by taking a free trial and exploring what we have to offer.

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You can track your fibre and calorie intake with the food diary and tools in Weight Loss Resources - try it free for 24 hours.

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