Pickle lovers everywhere can rejoice and dive deep into a jar of the yummy, salty, sour tasting cucumbers because it turns out that they’re better for us than previously thought! It’s not only pickles that do a body good, but all fermented foods and drinks can boost our health. So the next time you get a craving for something crisp and salty, snack on a few pickles and improve your social life in the process.
You’re probably wondering exactly how can a pickle make my life better and the explanation to that end can be found in a number of relatively new studies that have come out in recent years. In one study, completed by researchers at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, hard evidence was found that the bacteria living in our digestive systems is directly linked to our brain chemistry and behavior. That means the trillions of bacteria in our guts can have a noticeable effect on our mental health and wellness.
Furthermore, researchers at the College of William and Mary found that young adults who ate a diet rich in fermented foods, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, other pickled veggies, kefir, kombucha and more, experienced lower levels of social anxiety than those who did not eat fermented foods. According to Matthew Hilimire, an assistant professor in the department of psychology who co-authored the William and Mary study, the fermented foods had an “anxiolytic effect” on subjects, which in layman’s terms means that they reduced anxiety.
The findings of these two studies can be linked because fermented foods are a major source of probiotics, which help stimulate the growth of healthy, beneficial bacteria in our intestines. That means pickles and other types of fermented foods can work wonders at balancing the bacteria found in our digestive systems. In turn, this can have a profound impact on our overall mood and state of mind because we now know that our gut health is essential to our overall mental health and wellness.
The brain-gut link boils down to this basic premise; a healthy stomach and brain leads to mood stability and therefore less anxiety, depression, and irritability. By simply eating more fermented foods you can positively boost your mental health and improve your social life. You’re less likely to feel so shy, self-conscious, embarrassed, or anxious around others, and that can only be a good thing.
The research into fermented foods is ongoing and scientists are looking at alternative ways to help treat anxiety disorders by ways other than medication. Perhaps in the future we will pop a pickle instead of a pill and that’s awesome!
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