According to a recent study by Huffington Post, consuming fermented foods can actually reduce social anxiety symptoms. Packed with probiotics, Dr. Matthew Hilimire of Willian and Mary University in the United States, and his team state that this research is the first of many in the works, as they hypothesize how the right food can help with mental health.
The team developed a questionnaire for student participants, inquiring about the fermented foods they had consumed in the last month. It also asked students about their fitness routines and frequency, as well as fruit and veggie intake; in order to fully assess other healthy habits that are linked to providing positive mood boosters. The questionnaire was filled out during an Introduction to Psychology class at the university in the 2014 fall semester. Approximately 700 students participated.
According to Hilimire, the principle finding was that students who ate an increased amount of fermented foods actually experienced lower social anxiety; however that connection seemed strongest within people who showed increased neuroticism.
A secondary finding, which was published in Psychiatry Research, produced results that showed physical activity also has the potential to decrease social anxiety as well.
The research team notes an experimental version of this study is in the planning stages to further dig deeper into the idea of a correlation between the ‘mind and gut’. At the beginning of the year, an international collaboration on this idea was published in The Lancet Psychiatry, adding that there is increased research indicating the importance between good nutrition and mental health. They note that this mounting evidence is so compelling, that psychiatry and public health need to acknowledge and embrace the idea that a healthy diet can play a vital role when it comes to a healthy brain.
The team also brings attention to past research, which has indicated B vitamins (moreover B12 and folate), omega-3s, iron, magnesium, choline, vitamin D, amino acids, and S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) all have strong connections to mental health as well.