Believe It Or Not, Fermented Food Lowers Stress, Here's A Proof

When it comes to stress management, we're often told that the best things we can do is exercise, make time for our favourite activities, or attempt meditation or mindfulness. According to a study, the foods we eat can also help us cope with stress. Based on a current research, eating more fermented foods and fibre on a daily basis for four weeks has a substantial influence on lowering perceived stress levels. 

A rising body of research over the last decade has proven that diet has a significant impact on our mental health. In fact, a good diet may lower the chance of developing many common mental diseases. The processes underlying diet's effect on mental health remain unknown. However, the relationship between our brain and our microbiome could explain this correlation (the trillions of bacteria that live in our gut). The gut-brain axis allows the brain and gut to communicate constantly, allowing key physiological functions such as digestion and appetite to occur. I It also implies that our brain's emotional and cognitive centres are inextricably linked to our gut. 

The Study 

While earlier research has related stress and behaviour to our microbiome, it has been unclear whether changing food (and thus our microbiota) may have a distinct influence on stress levels. To put this to the test, 45 healthy persons between the ages of 18 and 59 with low-fibre diets were selected. More than half of the participants were women. The participants were divided into two groups and given a diet to follow for four weeks. Around half of the participants were assigned a diet that increased their intake of prebiotic and fermented foods. This is described as a "psychobiotic" diet because it includes foods associated with improved mental health. While participants on the control diet just got generic dietary recommendations based on the healthy eating food pyramid. 


Surprisingly, those on the psychobiotic diet reported feeling less stressed than those on the control diet. There was also a direct relationship between how strictly participants adhered to the diet and their experienced stress levels, with those who consumed more psychobiotic foods during the four-week period experiencing the greatest reduction in perceived stress levels. 

Interestingly, both groups' sleep quality improved, however those on the psychobiotic diet reported bigger benefits. Other research has found that gut microorganisms are involved in sleep mechanisms, which may explain this link. The psychobiotic diet only generated minor changes in the composition and activity of gut microorganisms. However, we found that the levels of certain critical compounds produced by these gut microorganisms changed significantly. Some of these molecules have been connected to mental health, which may explain why diet participants reported feeling less worried. 

It also adds to the body of information in this sector, demonstrating a link between diet, our microbiota, and our mental health. So, the next time you're feeling particularly anxious, you might want to reconsider what you're going to eat for lunch or supper. For a few weeks, eating extra fibre and fermented foods may help you feel less stressed.