Food and Behaviour Research

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10 June 2015 - Nutraingredients - Fermented food intake linked to fewer anxiety symptoms: Study

by Stephen Daniells

Increased intakes of fermented foods may be associated with fewer symptoms of social anxiety, particularly for people at higher genetic risk, says a new study.


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The study is said to be the first report connecting the consumption of natural fermented foods and anxiety, according to researchers from the College of William and Mary and the University of Maryland.

“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 Professor Matthew Hilimire, lead author of the study. “I think that it is absolutely fascinating that the microorganisms in your gut can influence your mind.”

Gut-brain axis

Data from animal and human studies have suggested that probiotics may exert anti-anxiety benefits, and a recent review published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment by Linghong Zhou and Jane Foster from McMaster University in Canada said that probiotics and prebiotics may alter the gut microbiota and influence the gut-brain axis to possibly open up new ways of influencing neuropsychological conditions.

On the other hand, no studies have looked at the potential relationship between probiotics and social anxiety, explained the authors in Psychiatry Research.