THE PTSD CHRONICLE – It turns out that stress might not only be ‘eating away at us’ but that we just might be feeding it too, according to researchers at the University of Toronto who discovered that some foods contribute to Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) while others combat it.
Fiber is among the food fighters, according to Karen Davison, Director of the Nutrition Informatics Research Group and Health Science Program faculty member at Kwantien University, who says that study respondents were less likely to exhibit PTSD if they consumed an average of two to three fiber sources a day.
It appears that fiber may help deflect stress.
“It’s possible that optimal levels of dietary fiber have some type of mental health-related protective effect,” says Davison, who notes that researchers believe that the communication system that connects the gut to the brain through the body’s short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) is responsible.
The SCFA molecules that ferment the fiber we consume act as carriers of sorts, communicating messages to/with cells that may in turn affect brain function.
There’s good with the bad, according to the researcher who says that the researchers also found that pastry, nuts and chocolate consumption may contribute to PTSD.
The findings were ‘unexpected,’ says Christina Hyland, a doctoral student at the University of Toronto’s FIFSW. Thankfully for chocolate, nut and sweet lovers, the researcher notes that more study needs to occur before making any definitive conclusions.
Food consumption is among the areas studied that is more easily controlled. Other factors like poverty, gender, age, immigration history, ethnicity, marital status and physical health were also examined.
Poverty was ‘strongly associated’ with PTSD, with 14% (1 in 7) of respondents whose household income was under $20,000 per year experiencing the disorder.
Women had nearly double the rate of PTSD in comparison with men. Divorced or widowed women were also twice as likely to experience the disorder in comparison with their married/common law counterparts.
The highest rates of PTSD are found in individuals 45 to 54 years of age (6.4%) and lowest for those aged 75 and older (3.1%), which supports previous research that identified men in their 40s and women in their early 50s among those most impacted.
People in chronic pain and smokers face elevated risks, particularly when two or more health conditions are present, according to researchers.