A prospective analysis of dietary fiber intake and mental health quality of life in the Iowa Women's Health Study

Seth Ramin, Margaret A. Mysz, Katie Meyer, Benjamin Capistrant, De Ann Lazovich, Anna Prizment

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Objective: Recent studies have reported associations between dietary intake and mental health. Dietary fiber is one nutrient that may modulate mental health, specifically depression risk, through the gut microbiome. We prospectively examined the association between dietary fiber intake and mental health-related quality of life (QOL) scores, a proxy for depressive symptoms, in a cohort of 14,129 post-menopausal women in the Iowa Women's Health Study. Methods: Dietary intake was assessed at baseline [1986] using a 127-item food frequency questionnaire. Mental health-related QOL scores were assessed at the follow-up questionnaire [2004] using the Mental Health (MH) component and Mental Health Composite (MCS) scales derived from the SF-36 Health Survey. The association between dietary fiber intake and mean QOL scores was examined using linear regression, with adjustment for age, alcohol intake, energy intake, waist-to-hip ratio, physical activity, smoking status, and education. Results: The median dietary fiber intake was 19.0 g/day, ranging from 1.1 to 89.4 g/day. Multivariable-adjusted mean MH scores were higher among those with higher fiber intake (P for trend = 0.02). For MCS score, the association with fiber intake observed in a model adjusted for age and energy intake became insignificant after multivariable adjustment. Conclusions: Our study is one of the first prospective analyses of the association between higher dietary fiber intake and increased MH QOL scores later in life. Given a plausible biological mechanism underlying the association between fiber intake and mental health, additional studies are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a National Cancer Institute award, R01 CA39742. We thank Ching-Ping Hong for assistance with data preparation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Elsevier B.V.


  • Depression
  • Dietary fiber
  • Mental health
  • Prospective cohort
  • Quality of life


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