Fermented foods may help prevent social anxiety in young adults

Fermented foods may help prevent social anxiety in young adults

The gut, also called the gastrointestinal tract is the stomach and the intestines. They are the crucial parts of our digestive systems. 80 percent of our immune system is located in your digestive system. A healthy gut is key if you want to maintain optimal health.

Fermented foods are essential to gut health, as they contain healthy bacteria like probiotics that boost digestive health.

New research from William & Mary shows that fermented foods may help prevent social anxiety in young adults.

The researchers found that young adults in the study who ate fermented foods as part of their diets showed less social anxiety symptoms. The effect was greatest amongst those with genetic risk for social anxiety.

It is likely that the probiotics in the fermented foods are favorably changing the environment in the gut, and changes in the gut in turn influence social anxiety,” said W&M Psychology Professor Matthew Hilimire. “I think that it is absolutely fascinating that the microorganisms in your gut can influence your mind.”

The experiment was explained in the study abstract:

The researchers designed a questionnaire that was included in a mass testing tool administered in the university’s Introduction to Psychology courses during the fall 2014 semester; about 700 students participated. The questionnaire asked students about the fermented foods over the previous 30 days; it also asked about exercise frequency and the average consumption of fruits and vegetables so that the researchers could control for healthy habits outside of fermented food intake, said Hilimire.

The main finding was that individuals who had consumed more fermented foods had reduced social anxiety but that was qualified by an interaction by neuroticism. What that means is that that relationship was strongest amongst people that were high in neuroticism,” Hilimire said.

Over the years, the link between diet, nutrition and mental health has become stronger. “This study shows that young adults who are prone towards anxiety report less social anxiety if they frequently consume fermented foods with probiotics. These initial results highlight the possibility that social anxiety may be alleviated through low-risk nutritional interventions, although further research is needed to determine whether increasing probiotic consumption directly causes a reduction in social anxiety,” said University of Maryland School of Social Work Assistant Professor Jordan DeVylder.

The study showing that fermented foods may help prevent social anxiety in young adults was published in the journal Psychiatry Research.

Note: None of the information in our website is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. The content on our website is for educational purposes only.

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1. “Study Finds Decreased Social Anxiety Among Young Adults Who Eat Fermented Foods.” Newswise. University of Maryland, n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2016.
2. “Fermented Foods, Neuroticism, and Social Anxiety: An Interaction Model.” Psychiatry Research. Psychiatry Research, n.d. Web. 25 Jan. 2016.

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