Get ready for pickle breath at parties. Researchers have discovered a (weird) connection between pickled foods and decreased social anxiety.
Psychologists at William & Mary and the University of Maryland joined forces to question 700 students about their dietary habits when it comes to fermented foods. According to ScienceDaily, the research revealed that young adults who eat more fermented foods have fewer social anxiety symptoms. Interestingly, the effect was strongest on those who were “high in neuroticism,” which means they’re more likely to have social anxiety in the first place.
“It is likely that the probiotics in the fermented foods are favorably changing the environment in the gut, and changes in the gut in turn influence social anxiety,” said W&M Psychology Professor Matthew Hilimire. “I think that it is absolutely fascinating that the microorganisms in your gut can influence your mind.”
The researchers plan to continue to explore the mind-gut connection, including another examination of the data that will look for a correlation between fermented foods and autism symptoms. They will also move forward with an experiment to determine causation, as opposed to correlation, between the foods and social anxiety.
Jordan DeVylder, Assistant Professor at University of Maryland School of Social Work, expands on the help probiotics in your diet could add to your mental health. He said:
“This study shows that young adults who are prone towards anxiety report less social anxiety if they frequently consume fermented foods with probiotics. These initial results highlight the possibility that social anxiety may be alleviated through low-risk nutritional interventions, although further research is needed to determine whether increasing probiotic consumption directly causes a reduction in social anxiety.”
If you’re having a barbecue this weekend, why not pick up an extra jar of pickles? It could only help the party, apparently.