Social anxiety affects a surprisingly high number of us. Social anxiety “is an anxiety disorder in which a person has an excessive and unreasonable fear of social situations.”
Sufferers of social anxiety will feel deeply uncomfortable both physically and mentally at the thought of BBQs, music festivals, outdoor events, even friendships and relationships.
What was really interesting was a study conducted for the Psychiatry Research magazine, which drew links between fermented food and anxiety levels. They sent out a questionnaire to 700 students asking them about what kinds of food they ate, and particularly how much fermented food they ate.
The results from this study showed that the more fermented food these students had eaten, the less likely they were to suffer from symptoms of social anxiety. The study also identified that those who ate more fermented food also tended to undertake more exercise. Exercise is a great way to bring oneself out of a bad mood, and can really help those who suffer from depression and anxiety feel better without the use of medication.
Those of us who do suffer from anxiety will recognize the symptoms: heart racing, profuse sweating, a flushed look to the face, stomach and intestines tightening and your muscles hardening up. The study showed a big link between the brain and the gut, as probiotics in our gut help control how we feel by sending messages to our brain.
Fermented foods help the gut to produce GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which is this chemical messenger that is sent to our brain by our gut. How GABA works is very similar to antidepressants and drugs that help with anxiety problems. It is commonly called on for those who suffer from stress, anxiety, insomnia and hypertension.
There are some fermented foods you can add to your diet to help relieve anxiety problems.
When this German delicacy is fermented naturally, it contains lactic acid and several probiotics that help with digestion. It’s great for helping with any stomach upsets. Eat it raw and your stomach will be forever grateful.
Pickled cucumbers contain vitamins A, Bs, C, D, E, K and folate – all excellent vitamins and minerals for the gut. Containing natural antioxidants, they also help take care of your liver.
Fans of Asian cuisine should already know about the delight of kimchi. It is fermented cabbage (I know, don’t write it off just yet) which is chocked full of probiotics and it’s not just useful for them. It wards off ulcers and stomach cancers as well helps keep your stomach healthy and happy.
Yoghurt that contains live bacteria is probably the easiest in the list to incorporate into your diet without adjusting too much to the taste.
Rejoice! You can eat chocolate for the benefit of your health! Dark chocolate contains a lot of Tryptophan, which is an amino acid. By eating more chocolate containing Tryptophan, you improve the levels of serotonin in the body, which in turn will decrease your anxiety levels and elevate your mood.
By Holly W.