Probiotics May Improve Mental Health – Research Suggests

Probiotics May Improve Mental Health – Research Suggests

In accordance with the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, over fifteen million adults in the United States alone have a social anxiety disorder. The number of anxiety cases also seems to be increasing with every passing year.

A person can start having the symptoms of anxiety as soon as they are 12-13 years old. Over one-third of such people do not seek any kind of help to tackle their anxiety for around ten years even though it can create extremely difficult situations for them.

What Is Anxiety?

The intensity of anxiety varies from person to person but many of the people have described it as a constant burden that makes it hard for them to decide or do almost anything without the fear of being judged.

Most of the people assume anxiety is just shyness and lack of confidence as that is how it is portrayed by many media channels. However, having an anxiety disorder is much more than that and people having it are always frightened in everyday social situations.

The effects of anxiety can even affect the relationships, work performance, and daily life of a person. Loneliness and isolation are thus frequent outcomes of having high levels of anxiety on a daily basis.

The conventional treatment for anxiety treatment is usually prescription medicines such as beta-blockers, benzodiazepines, and antidepressants.

How Effective Is Medication?

There are cases in which people were able to control their anxiety effectively by taking their prescribed medication in accordance with the instruction from their doctor. However, these medicines have also seen to worsen the mental health of the person.

If you look at many of the diagnosed anxiety disorder cases, you will find that depression is also common in people having anxiety. The prescribed medicines for both of the conditions have been especially known for their side effects.

People who have depression and anxiety also end up overdosing on the medicines and creating further health issues for themselves.

Since the negative impacts and the opposite effects of conventional medicines for anxiety are now well-documented, there is an increased focus on alternative treatments. One of the solutions for anxiety is fermented foods.

What Does Research Say About Fermented Food?

Fermented food is rich in probiotics. A study conducted by the University of Maryland School of Social Work and William & Mary and published in the journal Psychiatry Research discovered a link between gut health and social anxiety.

Read the research here. 

The research found that young adults having a higher amount of probiotics in their diet had a fewer number of social anxiety symptoms. It also looked at young adults who had a higher risk of social anxiety disorder and found that having more fermented food had the biggest impact on them.

The researchers at the University of Maryland inquired about the phobias, exercise, and social anxiety along with diets of around 700 students.

The most common fermented foods in the regular diets of the students were miso soup, kefir, fermented soy milk, yogurt, dark chocolate, kimchi, and pickles.

When the whole data from the observation was compiled, it was concluded that the students who had more fermented foods regularly had lesser or no symptoms of social anxiety. In addition, physical activity also played an important role.


How Do Fermented Foods Work?

In accordance with researchers from University College Cork, the gut bacteria have a significant role and can affect the gut-brain communication and ultimately the mood or behavior of a person. They also discovered that depression, too, has a link with gut-brain interplay.

Other trials have looked at the relationship of gut bacteria and mental health problems such as emotional disturbances, high levels of stress, anxiety, and depression along with conditions such as IBS or chronic fatigue syndrome and found that taking more probiotics helps immensely.

The gut is also known as the second brain in the body as is said to have a lot of effect on the emotional stability of a person.

Read more on the gut-brain connection here. 

Although further research is still needed to study the gut-brain connection, present-day studies have given enough evidence to conclude keeping gut health can improve mental health.

If you are looking for a safe, natural solution to control your anxiety, you can start by adding more probiotics to your diet by consuming more fermented foods.


Hilary Jensen

Hilary is a Food Science and Nutrition graduate with specialization in diet planning and weight loss. She enjoys reading and writing on Food, Nutrition, Diet, Weight Loss, and General Health.

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