Thursday, March 10, 2016

Get "Pickled", Not Anxious...!

It's hard to believe, but sometimes the answers to our most pressing health issues are right under our noses.

Many of us know that some foods can affect our moods. After all, they are called comfort foods for a reason, right? However, often they can affect our mental state as well.

How Eating Pickles Might Help Battle Anxiety
By Debra Kelly on Sunday, February 7, 2016

If you suffer from social anxiety, new research suggests that there might be a safer alternative to any medication that can be prescribed, and it’s found in your fridge. Fermented foods like pickles, yogurt, and sauerkraut contain probiotics that seem to act in much the same way as some prescription medications do, altering the brain’s neurotransmitters. Studies found that students who frequently ate fermented foods were less likely to suffer from social anxiety, even when their high scores on the neurotic scale suggested they should be more prone to it.

Social anxiety is one of the largest and most far-reaching psychological conditions in the world, and it’s estimated that around 7 percent of the population suffers from it at any given time, and as much as 14 percent of people have it at one time or another.

It’s characterized by an irrational anxiety triggered by certain types of social situations. Those situations vary from person to person and can include things like speaking in front of a group, using a public bathroom, or eating in front of others.

It all stems from a fear that you’re being evaluated by others, that impressions are being formed and that you’re standing out from the crowd as somehow different or wrong.

For some people, it can be so bad that it’s crippling. There’s a whole host of suggestions for people who suffer from one of its various forms, from consulting with a therapist to gradually exposing yourself to situations that make you anxious, a little bit at a time, and building up a tolerance to the things that you might find terrifying.

Research shows that there’s another way to help fight anxiety, and if you like pickles, you’re in luck.

According to researchers from the College of William & Mary and the University of Maryland School of Social Work, people who regularly ate fermented foods seemed to be better equipped to deal with social situations and were less likely to suffer from social anxiety. That included foods like pickles, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and fermented soy milk.

As weird as it sounds, it’s building on something we’re already familiar with.

They looked at the relationship between the probiotics that 700 students were regularly exposed to and compared that to their levels of anxiety. Previous studies already suggested there was a correlation between diet, probiotics, gut bacteria, and a reduction of anxiety and depression in animals, and the studies seemed to indicate that foods were increasing the GABA in the subjects’ system. GABA is the neurotransmitter that anti-anxiety medication focuses on, and the work has shown that some probiotics have the same effects as prescription medications.

The data came from surveys handed out to a cross-section of students, and it also showed that the students who were most likely to benefit from the presence of the good bacteria of fermented foods in their diet were also those who scored high on the “neurotic” scale, making them more prone to social anxiety than their peers.

At a glance, it might seem a bit far-fetched that scarfing down some pickles before a big presentation might help you feel more comfortable.

However, plenty of studies out there support the apparent influence our gut bacteria have on what’s going on in our heads and bodies.

The National Institutes of Health have some pretty staggering numbers when it comes to the bacterial cells in our bodies: They outnumber our human cells by about 10 to 1. We’re made up of millions of bacterial genes, too, so adding the right kind into our systems when we need it the most seems like a logical thing to do, in that context.

I found this article over at Knowledgenuts, where else? Just didn't want you to think I was making it up, ya know?

Coffee in the kitchen once again this morning. It's still stormy outside.


Judy said...

The one caveat to all this reporting about fermented foods is the foods can not be pasteurized or canned and nobody mentions it. The yogurt has to be unpasteurized, the kimchi and sauerkraut has to be dipped out of the crock it was fermented in and the same goes for the pickles. Those bacteria need to be alive when consumed to be of benefit to us.

I baked some lemon bars if anyone wants some to go with our coffee.

HermitJim said...

Hey Judy...
Thanks for the information. I'll certainly have one of those lemon bars, although I'm not sure how they will taste when I have pickles on my mind.
Thanks for stopping over today!

Chickenmom said...

Love, just love pickles! Thanks for the lemon bars, Judy - we'll have them before we eat the pickles!

linda m said...

The problem lies in our food preservation process. By "processing" our foods we kill off the bad bacteria as well as the good bacteria. Guess I'll just have to keep a crock of sauerkraut in the basement. Those lemon bars sound good Judy - thanks.

HermitJim said...

Hey Phyllis...
Pickles are a favorite for a lot of folks. The fact that they are good for you is good.
Thanks for coming by today!

Hey Linda...
Sometimes we "process" the good stuff right out and replace it with chemicals. Yum!
Thanks for stopping over today!

JO said...

Interesting article this morning. I love pickles too but don't keep them in the house. I do have a yogurt every day.

See you in the kitchen

Dizzy-Dick said...

I just love yogurt and eat it a couple times a day. I cheat, though, and purchase the sweetened stuff and some times I add stuff, like canned mandarin oranges and cereal.