Can Eating a Pickle a Day Take Your Anxiety Away?

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In what could be science’s weirdest correlation yet, eating pickles might have a positive impact on your anxiety, relationships and health.

This isn’t some strange pickle-eating bonding session, nor a cult based around on the benefits of fermented foods.

Instead, what is happening here comes down to simple nutrition: pickles are high in probiotics, an important component of digestive health.

Which, as it turns out, has a strong link to social anxiety and neurosis, according to a study published last year in Psychiatry Research.

Benefits of Fermented Foods

The research, conducted by scientists from College of William and Mary and University of Maryland, tasked 710 college students with self-reporting how much fermented foods they ate and any symptoms of social phobia, neuroticism, or anxiety they experienced.

They found strong evidence there was a negative correlation between social anxiety experienced and fermented foods consumed; essentially, eat more pickles, feel more at ease.

Subjects who especially struggled with neuroticism reported decreases in fear of social situations and shyness after upping their fermented food consumption.

While it may seem like common knowledge feelings have an effect on the digestive system— anxiety makes us nauseous, depression lowers our appetites— the reverse of this is still very new. Though the correlation between digestive health and mental health is strong, scientists are still unsure exactly why it’s present at all.

The most viable contender currently is the microbiome, the population of bacteria that lives inside all our guts, keeping it healthy and in tip-top shape.

It turns out there’s evidence to support this: Smithsonian Magazine cites previous studies conducted with mice found that mice with their guts stripped of microbes are extremely anxious. 

They exhibited increased levels of stress hormone cortisol and lowered levels of brain-derived neutropic factor (BDNF), a protein linked to depression in humans.

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National Geographic reports researchers guess that probiotics boost the production of GABA, gamma-aminobutyric acid, a neurotransmitter that has an effect similar to anti-anxiety medications.

Fermented foods may have even more benefits as well. As the Washington Post reports, fermented foods can also aid in digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune system function.

What this all boils down to can be summed up pretty simply…

Your gut health is more important than we ever thought, and fermented foods give them a big boost.

The microbes in your digestive tract are remarkably sensitive; a single round of antibiotics can throw your microbiome.

So if you find yourself with a case of nerves, try some kimchi. Your gut will thank you for it.

Here’s a delicious recipe to make your own fermented dill pickles.

Do you know any benefits of fermented foods?

I’d love to hear them, so by all means — SHARE them below!

About Cary Byrd

eDrugSearch founder, Cary Byrd, has been called an “e-health innovator” by MarketIntellNow, interviewed by top pharmaceutical industry journalists, invited to Matthew Holt’s Health 2.0 Conference and a Consumer Report's health summit, and highlighted on numerous health blogs.

benefits of fermented foods

0 thoughts on “Can Eating a Pickle a Day Take Your Anxiety Away?

  • I’m curious to know how the effects of eating pickles and other fermented foods compares to those of taking supplements in pill form. Anyone have any hard evidence on this?

    • Homemade saurkraut is another and is very easy to make. Find receipies on you tube for home fermented foods. Saurkraut is just finely shreaded cabbage layered in jar with layers of table, or pickleing salt, that’s it. Must allow venting of lid and just like any home canning, everything must be sterile to start.

    • Sherri Lloyd says:

      In essence they did mention them. Frequently they use the term fermented foods. All you have to do is Google fermented foods. Like he mentioned kimchi as an option, sauerkraut, kombucha tea, kefir, tempeh, miso, natural yogurt, real buttermilk, tofu, sour cream, soy sauce, salami, authentic sourdough bread, apple cider vinegar with the mother like Bragg’s……

  • They should be fermented in a sea salt brine, not vinegar. The sea salt brine creates the beneficial bacteria. Other fermented foods like NATO (fermented soy beans), kimchee, sauerkraut, and other fermented vegetables are also good choices. And it can be done at home.
    There’s a lot of research showing that our gut microbiome is directly connected to our brains via the vagus nerve, and our guts produce much more serotonin than our brains. Happy gut, happy brain.

  • I have severe IBS with weakened pancreatic function. My Functional Medicine Dr put me on a diet eating many fermenting foods. He also had me eating nuts (almonds mainly) My IBS tripled or quadrupled in intensity. The Dr continued to increase fermenting foods and nuts. The remainder of my diet remained stable. The Dr left town and I had no idea to where he went. I began seeing a gastro P.A. who recommended the testing for the pancreatic function. I also began the FOD MAP Diet. This diet eliminates certain foods temporarily. When the body systems normalize foods are gradually returned to the diet one at a time. Once fermenting foods were eliminated, my IBS calmed to some extent. When I tried returning nuts to my diet, I had developed an allergy to almost all of them. I avoid fermenting foods almost completely at this time

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