Sauerkraut, kefir, pickles, sourdough bread… Consuming fermented foods every day helps to be less stressed, according to an Irish study.
- Stress is an adaptation phenomenon of the body that allows us to react to our environment.
- In the participants, biological markers of stress were not affected.
What if the contents of our plate could help us reduce our stress? This was suggested by scientists from University College Cork (Ireland) in a study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry. “The impact of diet on the composition of the microbiota and the role of diet in maintaining optimal mental health have received much attention over the past decade. However, the question Whether whole food approaches can have psychobiotic effects is vastly understudied.” they indicated.
“Psychobiotic” diet: fermented foods rich in prebiotics
As part of their work, Dr. Kirsten Berding, nutritionist and lead author of the research, designed a diet to increase the consumption of fermented, prebiotic-rich foods. The researchers called this diet “psychobiotic.” They decided to test its effectiveness on mental health and recruited 45 healthy adults who ate low fiber foods.
A total of 24 people followed the “psychobiotic” diet for four weeks. Clearly, they ate fruits and vegetables rich in prebiotic fibers (6 to 8 servings per day, for example, onions, leeks, cabbage, apples…), cereals (5 to 8 servings per day) , legumes (3 to 4 servings per week) and fermented foods (2 to 3 servings per day, for example, sauerkraut, kefir or Kombucha). The rest of the volunteers did not change their diet during the same period.
Reduced stress levels through the consumption of fermented foods
After examining the composition of their faecal microbiota and data on their mental health, the team found that the “psychobiotic” diet resulted in a 32% reduction in stress. Consumption of fermented foods also improved the sleep quality of the volunteers.
“While the dietary intervention caused only subtle changes in microbial composition and function, significant changes in the level of 40 specific fecal lipids and urinary metabolites were observed. Finally, microbial stability was related to greater changes in people who followed the psychobiotic diet”, detailed the authors.
According to the scientists, these results underline that dietary approaches can be used to reduce stress. “Using microbiota-targeted diets to positively modulate gut-brain communication offers potential for reducing stress and stress-related disorders, but further research is needed to investigate the underlying mechanisms, including the role of the microbiota “, they concluded.