It’s well understood that fiber is an integral part of a healthy, well-rounded diet. It keeps your digestive system operating at its best, allowing your body to absorb the other proper nutrients you consume as well as keeping you regular. High-fiber greens like broccoli, spinach, and other veggies have a load of healthy nutrients and antioxidants as well as the fiber that helps make the best use of it all. And because of this, we’ve all accepted that vegetables are the one thing you can almost never have too much of as far as nutrition is concerned.
But this is old news and you probably already knew these things.
What you may not have known is what a new study has revealed about the link between fiber and healthy brain aging. The study titled, Butyrate and Dietary Soluble Fiber Improve Neuroinflammation Associated With Aging in Mice concluded that a high-fiber diet can contribute to less inflammation of the brain. That one symptom alone significantly lowers risks of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Butyrate, the word that probably sticks out like a sore thumb to you in that study title, is a short-chain fatty acid that is made by gut bacteria. It has been studied recently for its impacts on improved memory, associative learning abilities, and neural gene regulation in mice. In this most recent study, researchers gave young and older mice either low-fiber or high-fiber diets through a four week period and then tested their levels of butyrate. Sure enough, the mice on a high-fiber diet had noticeably higher butyrate levels, reduced intestinal inflammation, and reduced inflammation in their microglia, which work as your brain’s immune system. More specifically, the older mice were found to have significantly less inflammation in their brains and intestines. In all, the findings supported the simple idea that a high-fiber diet can significantly increase brain health overall and protect you from brain-aging illnesses.
So how can you accomplish this? Of course, loading more spinach and broccoli on your plate more often is probably the most straight-forward and quickest way to ensure you’re getting more fiber. Broccoli, brussels sprouts, squash, and cabbage are some of the best sources of quality soluble fiber while kale, collard greens, celery, and green beans are good sources of insoluble fiber. And if you’re not in the mood for putting in the effort to get a medley of veggies together for all that, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts are all great sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber.
And if you’re curious about sources of butyrate and wondering where exactly it’s found in the food chain, grass-fed butter and collagen supplements are easy go-to sources.
“Consuming collagen balances your amino acid ratios, and gut bacteria can turn collagen into butyric acid, which is very good for your gut,” says Dave Asprey, founder of Bulletproof, which focuses heavily on healthy fats and using them as fuel for your body.