Load up on fermented foods for mental health

January 3, 2023

Load up on fermented foods for mental healthFrom East Asia’s Kimchi and Paocai to South Asia’s Gundruk and Goyang and Southeast Asia’s Tempoyak, Sayur Asin, and Achara, Asians’ love of fermented foods is not only for gastronomic pleasure but also for health. Fermented vegetables and fruits are said to be high in probiotics because they contain lactic acid bacteria such as Lactobacillus plantarum. L. pentosus. brevis (L. lactic acidophilus, L. L. fermentum, L. fallax, and L. mesenteroides), according to a 2014 study, Fermented fruits and vegetables of Asia: a potential source of probiotics.

A new study adds to the growing body of evidence that fermented foods have health benefits, including mental health benefits.

APC Mircobiome Ireland researchers discovered that eating more fermented foods and fibre daily for four weeks had a significant effect on lowering perceived stress levels.

According to researcher John Cryan, Vice President for Research and Innovation at University College Cork, the mechanisms underlying the effect of diet on mental health could be via the relationship between our brain and our microbiome. The study confirms previous research findings that diet has a significant impact on a person’s mental health.

Cryan stated in his article published in November on the WeForum website that the mechanisms underlying the effect of diet on mental health are still not fully understood.

He suggested that this association could be due to the gut-brain axis, or the relationship between the human brain and the trillions of bacteria that live in the gut. This allows the brain and gut to communicate constantly, allowing essential body functions such as digestion and appetite to occur. It also implies that our brain’s emotional and cognitive centers are closely linked to the gut.

While previous research has linked stress and behavior to our microbiome, it has been unclear whether changing diets – and thus the microbiome – could have a distinct effect on stress levels, Cryan said.

This was the goal of their research, according to Cryan. To put this to the test, the researchers gathered 45 healthy people between the ages of 18 and 59 who ate low-fibre diets. More than half of the participants were female. The participants were divided into two groups and randomly assigned a diet to follow for the duration of the four-week study.

Around half of the participants were assigned to a diet developed by nutritionist Dr. Kirsten Berding, known as a “psychobiotic” diet or one high in prebiotic and fermented foods, which has been linked to improved mental health.

At the beginning and halfway through the study, this group received one-on-one education from a dietitian. They were told to aim for 6-8 servings of prebiotic fiber-rich fruits and vegetables per day, such as onions, leeks, cabbage, apples, bananas, and oats, 5-8 servings of grains per day, and 3-4 servings of legumes per week. They were also instructed to consume 2-3 servings of fermented foods on a daily basis, such as sauerkraut, kefir, and kombucha. Participants on the control diet only received general dietary advice based on the food pyramid for healthy eating.

Surprisingly, those who followed the psychobiotic diet felt less stressed than those who followed the control diet. Furthermore, both groups’ sleep quality reportedly improved, though those on the psychobiotic diet reported greater improvements in sleep.

The psychobiotic diet had little effect on the composition and function of gut microbes. The levels of certain key chemicals produced by these gut microbes, on the other hand, changed dramatically. Some of these chemicals have been linked to mental health, which could explain why diet participants felt less stressed, Cryan said.

The findings suggest that certain diets, specifically those that target microbes in the gut, have the potential to reduce perceived stress levels.

Despite the study’s limitations, Cryan believes it provides promising evidence that diet can help reduce stress. He adds that it will be interesting to see if these findings can be replicated in people suffering from stress-related disorders like anxiety and depression.




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Category: Education, Features

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