If you haven’t learned by now, a healthy diet can drastically change your mood and emotions. Holistic Health professionals and yogis alike have always known that the type of food you eat can either positively or negatively change how our bodies and minds work with each other.
New research has now proven that a healthier diet, especially involving fermented foods, can help with depression and anxiety.
Psychologists from the College of William & Mary have found now found a link between the consumption of fermented foods and lowered social anxiety rates. The study will be published in Psychiatry Research’s August issue.
Probiotics promote good gut health and support digestion through live, good bacteria. Previous research has suggested that more probiotics could reduce depression and anxiety symptoms. Following this logic, Dr. Matthew Hilimire, assistant professor of psychology and author of the study, decided to look into the effects of probiotics on personality and social anxiety.
The study consisted of 700 patients from the college. They were all asked questions about a number of fermented foods they ate, like kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kombucha, pickles, and kefir.
While also, assessing their social anxiety levels, characterized by the fear of being judged by others and feeling awkward in social situations, Hilimire was able to prove their hypothesis.
The Results – Could There be a Link?
Hilimire and the other study authors were correct in believing that fermented foods were linked with decreased social anxiety.
The study shows that the patients with the highest levels of neuroticism, or having negative emotions like fear, anxiety, worry, moodiness, and loneliness, benefited the most from eating sauerkraut and other fermented foods.
Increasing good bacteria in the gut lowers your risk of developing a leaky gut. This condition has been linked many times with depression. It also means lowering inflammation, which could be linked to a decrease in stress, depression, and anxiety.
The gut and brain act as a two-way street, and keeping your gut healthy and alive with good bacteria from prebiotics and probiotics may be the way to a “mood-healthy diet.”
The brain-gut connection is still a new discovery to the scientific world (even if holistic health has known for a while) and is gaining more attention from psychologists, increasing research. In 2013, a study out of UCLA found that women who ate yogurt two times a day for a month were less prone to threatening stimuli.
Oxford has also joined the studies, showing that prebiotics has anti-anxiety effects.
“I think there is some skepticism that there can be such a profound influence, but the data is quite substantial now,” Hilimire said.
A little more research still needs to be done to prove to the medical world that fermented foods help the brain function, but it shouldn’t be long before psychotherapy is accompanied with probiotic-rich foods and some healthy lifestyle changes.