Revealed: The fermented foods that can change your mood AND lower your stress levels
- Fermented foods may benefit mental health, according to a new study
- Findings show that there is a direct link between the brain and the microbiome
- Experts told FEMAIL how foods like kimchi and sauerkraut can reduce stress
Fermented foods, such as kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and some yogurts, have become extremely popular in recent years for their benefits to our gut health.
But now experts have revealed that fermented foods may also benefit a person’s mental health in a new study conducted by scientists at University College Cork in Ireland.
Since our gut and brain are in constant communication with each other, we can ensure that we maintain our gut health by consuming fermented foods alongside a balanced and varied diet rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables. This can help reduce negative feelings.
Rhiannon Lambert, nutritionist and author of “The Science of Nutrition,” told FEMAIL that when we feel stressed, our bodies go through a process known as the “fight-or-flight response.”
Fermented foods, such as kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and some yogurts, have become increasingly popular in recent years for their benefits to our gut health – but experts have now told FEMAIL how they can also help with mental health
She said: ‘This prepares your body both physiologically and psychologically to deal with the incoming stressors by increasing your heart rate and breathing and diverting blood flow away from areas such as the digestive system, which are less important during times of stress.
“This means that when we feel stressed, we can often develop digestive and gut health issues.”
By adding more fermented foods to your diet, you can restore this balance.
Simple additions to your diet, such as natural yogurt for breakfast or adding sauerkraut to your lunch salad, can be integral to maintaining a healthy, balanced gut microbiome, meaning a balanced temperament.
Pauline Cox MSc functional nutritionist, author and nutritional consultant of Wiley’s Finest Sustainable Supplements explained that sauerkraut is a popular fermented cabbage dish that has a number of health benefits.
It is rich in beneficial probiotics, a source of healthy fiber and a source of vitamin C. A daily dose of sauerkraut is an easy and cost-effective way to support your health.
Pauline said, “If you buy sauerkraut, make sure it’s raw, unpasteurized and found in the refrigerators of health food stores, as opposed to the unrefrigerated jars found on supermarket shelves.” It is also cheap and easy to make yourself.’
Other great options include kefir and kombucha, which have grown in popularity and are now available in most supermarkets.
Rhiannon said: ‘These are the types of probiotic foods that contain live strains of bacteria and are consumed to directly increase the population of the “good” bacteria that live in our gut.
‘Research suggests that probiotics, such as fermented foods, are especially good when your gut microbiome is out of balance, for example to relieve diarrhea caused by an infection or after a course of antibiotics.
“Although limited, there is also evidence that certain types of live strains of bacteria found in probiotics may reduce symptoms such as bloating in IBS.”
The fermented food experts recommend adding to YOUR diet
Tempeh is a brilliant alternative to meat and is made from fermented soybeans pressed into a compact cake. It is high in protein and can be baked, steamed or baked. It is also rich in many nutrients and soy protein has been shown to help reduce certain risk factors for heart disease.
This popular Japanese condiment has a deep umami flavor. Made from fermented soybeans it is great for gut health. Studies have shown its numerous health benefits, including lowering the risk of breast cancer and the risk of stroke.
Made from fermented cabbage and other vegetables such as radishes, kimchi is a popular Korean side dish with an array of health benefits, including lowering cholesterol and reducing insulin resistance. It works as an accompaniment to just about anything, including toasted sandwiches and stir-fries.
Sauerkraut is a popular condiment that consists of shredded cabbage fermented by lactic acid bacteria. It is low in calories but high in fiber and vitamins C and K. The antioxidant content of sauerkraut also has promising effects on cancer prevention.
Live yogurts not only contain calcium and protein, but because the milk is fermented with lactic acid bacteria, they’re also packed with nutrients like vitamin B12 and potassium. The bacterial cultures lower the risk of certain conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity and rheumatoid arthritis.