These Foods Could Help Ease Your Anxiety

Photographed by Molly DeCoudreaux.
Your morning yogurt could be giving you way more than a protein boost: According to new research, those probiotics could come in especially handy for those dealing with anxiety.

In a recent study, published in Psychiatry Research, a group of psychologists asked 710 college students about what they normally ate, their personalities, their exercise habits, and any social anxiety symptoms they experienced. The results showed that people who ate more fermented foods (yogurt, kimchi, and kefir) were less likely to experience social anxiety. The effect was the most pronounced for those who rated as highly neurotic (a personality trait that may share a genetic source with social anxiety). So, those who were already vulnerable to this form of anxiety would show the strongest link between, say, chowing down on sauerkraut and getting the courage to ask someone out.

However, this was just an observational study, so we don't know for sure if the probiotics in those fermented goodies caused the reduction in anxiety symptoms. But, animal studies suggest that probiotics can help stimulate the release of important mood-related neurotransmitters. And, probiotic supplements have been shown to change how we respond to stress and sadness.

Of course, diet is just one part of dealing with our mental states. But, as we continue to learn more about how the brain interacts with our guts (and their bacterial inhabitants), it seems like what we eat is turning out to be an increasingly important factor in how we feel. Consider this just another excellent reason to treat your tummy right.

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