You know how The Mayor of Townsville from Power Puff Girls was crazy about pickles? Guess what, this obsession of his may be the answer for why he hasn’t gone nuts in all his years as mayor, working in such a stressful environment, with his city attacked by all sorts of evil geniuses and monsters. But let’s leave aside the fictional cartoon world and let me tell you about what researchers at University of Maryland have discovered.
Pickles are fermented foods that contain probiotics and not only help with intestinal transit and boost the immune system, but also lower stress levels and anxiety. After studying the dietary habits of 710 college students, researchers at William & Mary and the University of Maryland say that they found a connection between eating pickled foods and feeling less anxious.
Researchers designed a questionnaire that was included in a mass testing tool administered during the fall 2014 semester. The questionnaire asked students about the fermented foods, and beverages, consumed over the previous 30 days (pickles, pickled cabbage and other vegetables, wine, beer, cider, yogurt, kefir, cheese etc.).
Researchers have found that there is a close link between the consumption of foods rich in probiotics and the level of anxiety felt. For subjects which, at the beginning of the experiment, showed an anxious state, there was a reduction in anxiety at the end of the research, due to consumption of pickles and other fermented foods. At the same time, the participants have become more optimistic and less nervous.
Taken together with previous studies, the results suggest that fermented foods that contain probiotics may have a protective effect against social anxiety symptoms for those at higher genetic risk, as indexed by trait neuroticism. While additional research is necessary to determine the direction of causality, these results suggest that consumption of fermented foods that contain probiotics may serve as a low-risk intervention for reducing social anxiety.
You can find the study here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25998000