Sauerkraut Could Be The Secret To Curing Social Anxiety

Can you eat your way to an anxiety-free existence?

It might sound outlandish, but the idea that your diet can have a huge effect on your emotions is the subject of an exciting new area of study. The latest addition to this growing body of research comes from psychologists at the College of William & Mary, and finds a link between a diet high in fermented foods and reductions in neuroticism and 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,” Dr. Matthew Hilimire, an assistant professor of psychology and one of the study’s authors, said in a statement. “I think that it is absolutely fascinating that the microorganisms in your gut can influence your mind.”

Probiotics are live bacteria that support digestion and gut health, and have also been shown to support immune and neurological function.

The sauerkraut solution? With preliminary research — which has mostly been conducted on mice — suggesting that consuming probiotics might lessen symptoms of anxiety and depression, Hilimere and his colleagues decided to investigate whether eating probiotic-rich foods had a positive effect on personality and social anxiety.

For the study, which will be published in the August issue of Psychiatry Research, 700 undergraduates were asked about their consumption of foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, yogurt, fermented soy products, pickles and kefir. They were also assessed for Big Five personality traits and social anxiety, which is characterized by the tendency to feel uncomfortable in social situations and to fear being judged by others.

As hypothesized, eating fermented foods was correlated with decreased social anxiety. The link was strongest among —> Read More