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Good for your stomach and head: why you should eat fermented foods when stressed

Whether it's kimchi or kombucha, fermented foods are hip. A study claims to have found that sauerkraut and the like not only taste good, but are also stress killers.

Intestinal flora - Good for your stomach and head: why you should eat fermented foods when stressed

John Mayer already knew: "Your body is a wonderland". Sure, he had something more superficial in mind with this song line. Nevertheless, he was essentially right. The human body is a wonderland, one that needs to be cared for and nurtured. The right diet plays a decisive role in this, as various studies have shown. If you want to keep your body strong, both physically and mentally, you have to pay attention to what you feed it. After all, you don't fill up a Ferrari with manure. Scientists at APC Microbiome Ireland now want to find out what should be on your plate when times are particularly stressful: fermented foods and fiber.

Whether we feel well or not depends largely on our microbiome. The microbiome refers to all the microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi, in our body. Among other things, it has an influence on our immune system, our metabolism and also our perception of stress. One reason for this could be the gut-brain axis. The two organs are in constant communication with each other. Can a change in diet reduce stress levels? The research team investigated this. 45 people between the ages of 18 and 59 took part in the four-week study. All participants were healthy. Half of the group followed a so-called psychobiotic diet during this time, while the control group only received general dietary recommendations.

Less stress, better sleep

The psychobiotic diet included fruit and vegetables with a high proportion of prebiotic fibers such as bananas and cabbage, cereals and pulses - several portions of each every day. On top of this, the participants were to eat fermented foods such as kefir and sauerkraut. A review was carried out after four weeks. And indeed, the participants who ate a psychobiotic diet as part of the study felt less stressed than those in the control group. The greatest improvement was felt by the people who ate more of these foods during the study period. They also slept better than before.

Hans Hauner, Professor of Nutritional Medicine at the Technical University of Munich, described our intestinal flora to "Quarks" as a personal fingerprint. This is formed very early in life, at birth and in the first few months afterwards. In adults, the gut biome is quite stable. So can the microbiome really be changed by a simple change in diet?

Sauerkraut is not the only fermented food

The scientists in the study themselves only speak of subtle "changes in the composition and function of the microbes in the gut. However, we observed significant changes in the amount of certain key chemicals produced by these gut microbes." Only a small number of people took part in the study; whether the observed effects can also be transferred to the general population has yet to be researched. It is also unclear "whether these results can be replicated in people with stress-related disorders such as anxiety and depression", the team writes.

By the way, if you don't feel like eating sauerkraut all the time for the sake of your health, don't fret - chocolate, beer, cheese and yoghurt are also fermented foods.

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