That sinking feeling in your gut which heralds an anxiety attack might actually respond to eating fermented foods. Professors Matthew Hilimire and Catherine Forestell from William and Mary College collaborated with Assistant Professor Jordan DeVylder of the University of Maryland School of Social Work to investigate a beneficial link between fermented foods, which contain probiotics, and social anxiety.
The interesting result: Researchers found that young adults who eat more fermented foods have fewer social anxiety symptoms, and surprisingly, the effect is 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,” said Hilimire. “I think that it is absolutely fascinating that the microorganisms in your gut can influence your mind.” And the more anxious a person is, high on the scale of neuroticism, the better it works!
This new research builds upon the foundation that the gut is wired with serotonin receptors and that the gut has its own “little brain,” hence the term gut reaction. The brain and the gut have a lot in common, including the ways in which nerve cells communicate with each other via neurotransmitters. Serotonin is one of the most important neurotransmitters for that brain in your gut. Many health experts agree that a healthy balance of gut flora, gut microbiota, in the digestive tract and specifically the intestines is extremely important for maintaining the health of the entire body, organs and systems.
Here are 6 low risk interventions for anxiety:
- Eat fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, tempeh, kefir, miso, pickled foods. Add probiotics to your diet
- Exercise to redirect your focus
- Meditate and breathe deeply to relax your brain and heart. Recommended breaths, inhale 2-counts through the nose and exhale 4-counts
- Acupuncture and acupressure can be helpful
- Talk therapy can help develop coping skills
- Create relaxation techniques that work for you like a walk outdoors in sunlight while listening to music, yoga poses, auto-hypnosis
However, some people might need medication along with low risk interventions. So, don’t throw out your medication based on this study. Consult your doctor to achieve the best result for you as an individual. Perhaps, changing to a healthier diet with probiotics might reduce the need to medicate or even help you take a lower dosage. Food and mood are correlated like the adage, “you are what you eat.”
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