Anti-Anxiety Food

For The Socially Awkward And Neurotic

Anti-Anxiety Food. Healthy Living Magazine

Anti-Anxiety Food. Healthy Living Magazine

How you feel isn’t in your head. It’s in your gut, or what neuroscientists call the body’s other brain.

College of William & Mary (W&M) researcher Dr Matthew Hilimire investigated the connection between fermented foods, which contain probiotics, and social anxiety.

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Examples of fermented foods include yogurt, kefir, kimchi, tofu and sauerkraut. The researcher found that young adults who eat more fermented foods have fewer social anxiety symptoms with the effect being 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 Dr Hilimire. “I think that it is absolutely fascinating that the microorganisms in your gut can influence your mind.”

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A questionnaire was given to Introduction to Psychology students during the fall 2014 semester; about 700 W&M students participated. The students answered questions about fermented food consumption in the last month; exercise frequency; and consumption of fruits and vegetables. Since exercise frequency can produce less social anxiety, the researchers controlled for healthy habits outside of fermented food intake.

“The main finding was that individuals who had consumed more fermented foods had reduced social anxiety but that was qualified by an interaction by neuroticism. What that means is that that relationship was strongest amongst people that were high in neuroticism,” Dr Hilimire said.

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ReferenceHilimire MR, DeVylder JE, Forestell CA. Fermented foods, neuroticism, and social anxiety: An interaction model. Psychiatry Res, 2015; 228 (2): 203 DOI: 10.1016/j.psychres.2015.04.023
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