Can fermented foods make you a happier person? Can they even up your social game? It may seem farfetched but, apparently, it’s not.
When I’m not eating a clean diet, including fermented foods, and taking a good probiotic, I start to feel more stressed and overwhelmed. In the past, I didn’t know how to reduce anxiety so I’d wake up at 3 am worrying about everything! Of course, the last thing I’d want to do after a poor night’s sleep is socialize and make new friends.
The Anxiety-Gut Connection
Stress can disrupt the balance of your gut flora, which then affects hormones, such as cortisol. Waking up in the middle of the night is a byproduct. These types of symptoms are enhanced if you drink wine to calm your nerves.
The gut flora/microbiota also regulates hormone balance. If you suffer from PMS and PMS-related anxiety, it’s likely due to an overgrowth of bad bacteria.
The Role of Fermented Foods
In a recent study of young adults, an association was found between fermented foods and a reduction in social anxiety. Researchers found that among students who were prone to being anxious and hyper, those who ate fermented foods were less anxious overall.
Another study from McMaster University showed that mice treated with antibiotics became more antisocial. Once their good bacteria levels returned, their behavior returned to normal. Who knew it could be that simple?
If you’re wondering how to reduce anxiety in your life, it might be worth increasing your daily intake of beneficial bugs by adding sauerkraut (check out my how-to video), kimchi and lots of greens to your diet. Making them is super simple, and I share a bunch of recipes on my site for beginners and adventure seekers alike.
While I prefer homemade ferments, you can find them at the grocery store. Just be sure to look for them in the refrigerated section. Fermented foods found on a dry shelf have been pasteurized, which means the beneficial bacteria and enzymes are dead.
If you have any questions about how to reduce anxiety with fermented foods, or how to improve the health of your gut, email me to book a free consultation. I would love to hear from you and get you started on your healing journey.
Fermented foods, neuroticism, and social anxiety: An interaction model, Matthew R. Hilimire et al, Psychiatry Research, Volume 228, Issue 2, 15 August 2015, Pages 203–208
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of a probiotic in emotional symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, A Venket Rao et al, Gut Pathog. 2009; 1: 6.
A randomized controlled trial to test the effect of multispecies probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood , Laura Steenbergena et al, Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, Volume 48, August 2015, Pages 258–264
Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve, Javier A. Bravo et al, PNAS vol. 108 no. 38 16050–16055
Systematic Review of Intestinal Microbiota Transplantation (Fecal Bacteriotherapy) for Recurrent Clostridium difficile Infection , Ethan Gough et al, Clin Infect Dis. (2011) 53 (10): 994-1002.