Experts found the diet may help ease problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression.
High-fibre food, including pasta and veg, stimulates bacteria in the gut to produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which tests show decrease stress and anxiety-like behaviour.
The SCFAs also repair “leaks” between the gut and rest of the body triggered by long-term stress.
Undigested food, germs and bacteria pass through them into the gut wall and blood causing persistent inflammation.
University College Cork experts arrived at the findings after feeding mice SCFAs normally produced by the gut bacteria.
Using behavioural tests the rodents were assessed for anxiety and depressive-like behaviour.
The experts said it was unclear how SCFAs work but Professor John Cryan added:
“There is a growing recognition of the role of gut bacteria and the chemicals they make in the regulation of physiology and behaviour.
“The role of short-chain fatty acids in this process is poorly understood up until now.”
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