As mammals age, immune cells in the brain known as microglia become chronically inflamed. In this state, they produce chemicals known to impair cognitive and motor function. That's one explanation for why memory fades and other brain functions decline during old age. But, according to a new study, there may be a remedy to delay the inevitable: dietary fiber.
Dietary fiber promotes the growth of good bacteria in the gut. When these bacteria digest fiber, they produce short-chain-fatty-acids (SCFAs), including butyrate, as byproducts.
"Butyrate is of interest because it has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties on microglia and improve memory in mice ...
"A practical way to get elevated butyrate is to consume a diet high in soluble fiber."
... when old mice consumed the high-fiber diet, their intestinal inflammation was reduced dramatically, ...
The next step was looking at signs of inflammation in the brain. The researchers examined about 50 unique genes in microglia and found the high-fiber diet reduced the inflammatory profile in aged animals.
"What you eat matters. We know that older adults consume 40 percent less dietary fiber than is recommended. Not getting enough fiber could have negative consequences for things you don't even think about, such as connections to brain health and inflammation in general." [emphasis mine]
Consider these foods.
Soluble fiber is found in many fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, and legumes. It’s also found in flax, chia and pumpkin seeds. Focus on these soluble fiber-rich foods:
Oats, Barley, Apples, Berries, Pumpkin, Yams/sweet potatoes, Artichoke hearts, Asparagus, Plums (and prunes), Chia, Lentils, Onions, Beets