Integrative Nutrition Blog

Eating Fermented Foods Decreases Anxiety

July 22, 2015

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It turns out fermented foods do so much more than improve digestion. Recent studies prove they play a big role in reducing anxiety. How incredible is that? 

People have been fermenting foods for preservation since Neolithic times, and now it is one of the hottest trends in health and wellness today. Why? Because fermented foods have a lot of healthy bacteria called probiotics in them, which are crucial for gut health. 

Although people often think of bacteria as being a source of infection, your intestines are actually full of lots of good bacteria. Having a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut – what scientists call the “microbiome” – is essential for your immune system, metabolism, vitamin synthesis, and much more. 

As it turns out, 95% of the body’s serotonin – the happy hormone – lives in the gut, too, so having a healthy microbiome also helps maintain a positive mindset and avoid depression. 

Cortisol is the stress hormone that’s basically the opposite of serotonin, and a recent study at Oxford University shows that eating prebiotics – foods that feed probiotics to create a healthy gut – reduces the cortisol response, improving emotional health. 

As the study states: 

There is now compelling evidence for a link between enteric microbiota and brain function. The ingestion of probiotics modulates the processing of information that is strongly linked to anxiety and depression, and influences the neuroendocrine stress response.” 

Translation: Eating prebiotic and probiotic foods reduces stress, anxiety, and depression. 

Here’s a secret: You don’t need to spend a lot of money on fancy supplements to enjoy these amazing health benefits. Prebiotics and probiotics are both available on the shelves of your supermarket! 

Prebiotic foods include garlic, onions, leeks, dandelion greens, and raw asparagus. These feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. Probiotic foods include any naturally-fermented vegetables, kefir, kombucha, and tempeh, to name a few. 

Prebiotics feed the probiotics, leading to a happy gut. 

Eating these foods is the simplest way to build a healthy microbiome so you can have more energy, get rid of anxiety, lose weight, and stave off chronic disease. 

It’s best when you make fermented foods yourself at home, because then they contain vitamin L, for love. Homemade food is naturally so much healthier because you know exactly what goes into it. Do you agree? 

You can learn a lot more about the amazing benefits of probiotics in the IIN curriculum, so you can start feeling healthier and happier and then share that knowledge with friends, family, and clients. 

To what extent are you aware of the benefits of prebiotics and probiotics? What are your favorite foods that contain these awesome bacteria? Share in the comments below. 

What if the world knew about this too? Wouldn't it be a better place? Use the social tools to spread the word!  

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