A research conducted by researchers from the University of Maryland and the College of William and Mary suggests that young people who eat fermented food have less problems when socializing. It seems that the consumption of fermented foods such as pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi and yogurt can reduce social anxiety and neuroticism.
The saying that you are what you eat might not be in vain since a large a number of studies indicate that the food we eat has a huge impact on our well-being. However although this is true it might seem strange that scientists decided to conduct a study which focuses on the link between social anxiety and fermented foods such as pickles.
The researchers conducted this study starting from the strong connection between a person’s digestive system and one’s psychological state. Psychological issues such as neurosis and anxiety make people angry or agitated and this leads to digestive problems caused by the inflammation of the digestive track. So what scientists wanted to check was whether this connection works the other way around.
The lead author of the study, psychology professor Matthew Hilimire from the College of William and Mary, remarked:
“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. I think that it is absolutely fascinating that the microorganisms in your gut can influence your mind.”
Probiotics reconstruct the bacterial flora and this helps regulating the intestinal tract. This way a person can have a good digestion. If digestion is complete the inflammation in the gut reduces along with it. So the researchers wanted to check whether less inflammation of the gut means the relief of social anxiety.
700 students were requested to conduct a survey about how much fermented foods they consume every day and also about their levels of anxiety. The findings indeed indicate that there is a connection between anxiety and fermented foods, meaning that those who ate fermented food regularly were less likely to experience social anxiety.
For now this seems to be a good hypothesis, but further research is needed in order to prove that this is true because this study is not enough to establish a cause and effect theory.
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