According to a recent study, there is a connection between fermented food and social anxiety. By eating more yogurt and pickles, you could be more calm and poised.
As they say, we are what we eat and as extensive scientific data points out, the nature of our nutrition does have a great role in our well-being. A group of scientists from the College of William and Mary and the University of Maryland have gone a step further and they have conducted a research project on the correlation between fermented foods and the level of social anxiety.
Their theory was based on the strong connection between the psychological state of a person and the health of his digestive system. Anxiety, neurosis and pretty much any psychological issue that makes people angry or on edge results in digestive issues, mainly due to the inflammation that occurs along the digestive track.
Therefore, the team of scientists that has conducted this research wanted to see if the issue could be tackled the other way around. Fermented food has a high content of probiotics. These are a series of helpful bacteria that help regulate the intestinal tract by reconstructing the bacterial flora that a person needs to be able to have a qualitative digestion.
By assuring that the digestion is done properly and completely, the inflammation of the gut is reduced. And this is where their theory came in. They wanted to see if people who have a regular intake of probiotic-filled food, and therefore less inflammation of the gut, were less prone to develop anxiety and neurosis.
And so they conducted a massive survey on approximately 700 students from the College of William and Mary that assessed how much fermented food the subjects ate on a regular basis and also their anxiety level.
They inquired about the intake of food such as pickles, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, soy milk, kimchi, miso soup or dark chocolate, all of which are in the fermented food category. Then, they asked the students about their anxiety and their neurosis and other psychological issues. Finally, they asked them how often they exercise and the kind of life they lead, but also about the non-fermented food that they eat.
As they were expecting, their findings suggest that there actually is a connection between fermented foods and the level of anxiety, in the sense the people who ate fermented food regularly experienced less social anxiety.
This study is not enough however to establish a cause and effect theory, precisely because there are a lot of other factors that could influence the anxiety level of the participants. All of these factors, from exercise level, to eating healthy food, to all the strictly psychological factors like traumatic events and depression, influence anxiety levels and therefore, they constitute confounders.
For the moment, the findings of this study suggest an promising hypothesis, but more extensive research needs to be conducted on the matter, in order to demonstrate it.
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