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There’s a link between what we eat and PTSD episodes, according to researchers

Published on:12 February 2021, 16:05pm IST
Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is characterised by episodes which this new study shows might be linked with what you’re eating.
Grace Bains
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PTSD
Here’s another study that establishes that mental health might be related to gut health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Mental health has become a topic of discussion only in the past few years. Fortunately, this also means that we’ve seen more research around matters of mental health, and this has translated to better medical help for those who may be suffering from mental illnesses.

One particular mental health concern that is increasingly being talked about is post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, which is characterised as a disorder experienced by people who may have experienced something extremely traumatic such as life-threatening accident, terrorist attack, and sexual abuse. 

In fact, it has also been reported in people who have been living under threat to their lives and loved ones, such as in an abusive relationship or a place affected by war.

What most patients of PTSD find tough are the ‘episodes’ which are often brought on by triggers they associate with their traumatic experiences. The flashbacks and memories often end up leaving them with severe feelings of anxiety, anger and stress.

We’re still trying to understand the mental disorder fully and researchers are conducting studies in order to come up with effective ways of treating those suffering from PTSD.

There could be a link between nutrition and PTSD episodes

New research conducted over a period of 20 plus years has established a link between PTSD and nutrition. The data collected was analysed by the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) and the findings were published in the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, outlining the connection between health factors and PTSD.

The authors made it clear that the link is only a part of the various factors that influence the development and effects of PTSD in individuals. The study, however, did establish that those who include two sources of fibre in their daily diet are less likely to suffer from PTSD episodes than those who do.

PTSD
Trauma comes uninvited, and so does this affliction. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Karen Davison, who is the lead author of the study and the director of the Nutrition Informatics Research Group and health science program faculty member at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Surrey, British Columbia, said: “It is possible that optimal levels of dietary fibre have some type of mental health-related protective effect.”

According to her, it could be due to the short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) which find their origin in the gut. Talking more about this link, she explained: “SCFA molecules can communicate with cells and may affect brain function.”

On the other hand, the researchers also linked certain foods with higher instances of PTSD. These foods include chocolate, pastries, nuts and pulses.

The study also established the fact that women are more likely to suffer from PTSD than men. In addition, the percentage of divorced or widowed women diagnosed with it is higher than those who are married or living with a long-term partner.

We hope research on post-traumatic stress disorder continues to find more about its occurrence and effects in order to facilitate improved management of the illness.

Grace Bains Grace Bains

Grace is someone who likes writing enough to make a living out of it. When she isn’t writing, you will find her having chai and reading a book.