In a recent scientific study, it was discovered that fermented foods appear to help alleviate social anxiety in people. Meaning foods like sauerkraut and pickles can have an overall positive effect on your mood and well-being!
Medical research is increasingly recognizing the link between your gut and health. If your gut is out of balance, then your overall health will be problematic. The long term effects of this imbalance can even lead to depression and anxiety.
The gut is also home to your body’s second nervous system (a “second brain”, if you will). According to Dr. Michael Gershon, you have the same amount of neurotransmitters in your gut as your brain!
This link between brain health and gut health is backed up by new research that has shown that a diet rich in fermented foods, which contain probiotics, may help curb social anxiety in young adults, especially those who are highly neurotic.
The University of Maryland and the College of William & Mary in Virginia partnered for a study that looked at the effects of probiotic-rich fermented foods. They believe that the probiotics (so-called “good bacteria”) found in different fermented foods appears to increase the production of the GABA neurotransmitter. This brain chemical produces similar effects to anxiolytics; anxiolytics are anti-anxiety medications.
“While our study cannot definitely determine a causal relationship between fermented food consumption and social anxiety, in combination with the preclinical and clinical studies, our findings suggest that eating more fermented foods can decrease social anxiety,” Matthew Hilimire, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, said.
Foods like fermented soy bean paste (natto), kimchee or sauerkraut, pickles and other fermented vegetables contain a lot of this the healthy bacteria. These probiotics help block bad bacteria, help produce digestive enzymes and increase your nutrient uptake.
Nutritionist Barbara Mendez explains some of the health benefits of fermented foods in her video below. She talks about what foods you might want to introduce into your diet to get these positive probiotics working for you in your gut.
And here’s a short video describing the science behind fermented foods and probiotics and how they work in our bodies.
It’s fascinating stuff. And what’s even better is how many different fermented foods you can easily introduce into your diet. I think I’ll start with pickles!
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