It may seem farfetched but apparently it’s not. In a recent study looking at young adults, an association was found between eating fermented foods and a reduction in social anxiety. Researchers found that amongst students who were prone to being anxious and hyper, those who ate fermented foods were less anxious overall and that included social circumstances. Less anxiety = more sociable. Who knew it could be that simple?
To be fair, this research backs up previous research that indicated better gut health with a healthy composition of good bacteria also lowered anxiety in both mice and human studies. In one study from McMaster University, mice treated with antibiotics became more antisocial. Once their normal intestinal good bacteria levels returned, their behavior returned to normal. I bet you never thought of mice as being social but apparently they like each other a lot.
It is also interesting to note that people who suffer from IBS, also often suffer from anxiety and depression and we now know that IBS is a condition where sufferers have lower good bacteria levels.
In another mouse study, researchers used germ-free mice who were genetically were less social and gave them bacteria from highly social mice. The mice became more active and daring.
So if you suffer from social anxiety, maybe instead of medication, you need a good poop transplant from someone who is much more of a social butterfly. Yes, in case you did not know, there really are poop transplants and they are extremely popular, showing a lot of promise for a number of conditions. There are even DIY versions with people getting friends to donate and they do it themselves. I really do not want to know the details for this and I would strongly not recommend this. When it is done professionally, they screen the donor to make sure their poop is suitable for donation.
Now if you are looking for something less messy and less complicated to help anxiety, then fermented foods could be an easy and far more appealing option. The benefits have been linked to the fact that fermented foods contain probiotics (good bacteria) and previously, studies have found that probiotics (in the form of supplements) have also been helpful with anxiety and depression.
I personally would rather eat a food over a supplement. As helpful as supplements can be, food is more fun. And I love the recipes I have created using fermented foods. A good recipe has a combination of flavours that the fermented food enhances. Many good quality fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, miso, kimchi and yogurt are available in health food and grocery stores. Always look for them in the refrigerator section. Any fermented food that is found on a shelf has been pasteurized.
Or you can learn to make your own. You can make them to your own taste preferences, save money and control the quality. It is a lot fun and easier than coking or baking. So why not add this to your list of skills.
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- 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.
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