The next time you feel uneasy, grab a pickle and chomp away — researchers from William & Mary and the University of Maryland say they have found a possible connection between decreased social anxiety and eating fermented foods.
Researchers asked 700 college students about the amount of fermented foods they ate, and found that those who consumed higher amounts of sauerkraut, kimchi, and the like had less social anxiety. The effect, researchers said, was greatest among those at genetic risk for social anxiety disorder as measured by neuroticism. "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," Prof. Matthew Hillmire of William & Mary said. "I think that it is absolutely fascinating that the microorganisms in your gut can influence your mind."
The findings will be published in Psychiatry Research this August, and the team plans to examine the data to see if there is a correlation between fermented food intake and autism symptoms.