Can Fermented Foods Make You More Sociable?

It may seem farfetched but, apparently, it’s not!

Before I started to work on my gut health, I often felt anxious and prone to mood swings and headaches. After realizing how sensitive I was to gluten. I took it out of my diet. I also started to include more fermented foods such as Kombucha, Goats Milk Kefir and Sauerkraut into my daily routine. My mind feels calmer and I am more in control of how I feel. The bacteria is my gut feels much more balanced and I can honestly feel the difference. 

In a recent study looking at young adults, an association was found between eating fermented foods and a reduction in social anxiety.  Researchers found that amongst students who were prone to being anxious and hyper, those who ate fermented foods were less anxious overall and that included social circumstances. Less anxiety = more sociable. Who knew it could be that simple?

To be fair, this research backs up previous research that indicated better gut health with a healthy composition of good bacteria also lowered anxiety in both mice and human studies. In one study from McMaster University, mice treated with antibiotics became more antisocial. Once their normal intestinal good bacteria levels returned, their behavior returned to normal. I bet you never thought of mice as being social but apparently, they like each other a lot.

It is also interesting to note that people who suffer from IBS, also often suffer from anxiety and depression and we now know that IBS is a condition where sufferers have lower good bacteria levels. 

In another mouse study, researchers used germ-free mice who were genetically were less social and gave them bacteria from highly social mice. The mice became more active and daring.

If you suffer from social anxiety, maybe instead of medication, you need a good poop transplant from someone who is much more of a social butterfly! Yes, its a thing! There really are poop transplants and they are extremely popular, showing a lot of promise for a number of conditions. 

Now if you are looking for something less messy and less complicated to help anxiety, then fermented foods could be an easy and far more appealing option! The benefits have been linked to the fact that fermented foods contain probiotics (good bacteria) and previously, studies have found that probiotics (in the form of supplements) have also been helpful with anxiety and depression.

Supplements are good but food is more fun. And I love the recipes I have created using fermented foods. A good recipe has a combination of flavours that the fermented food enhances. Many good quality fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, miso, kimchi and yogurt are available in health food and grocery stores. Always look for them in the refrigerator section. Please note that any fermented food that is found on a shelf has been pasteurized, which means the beneficial bacteria and enzymes are dead and no longer useful for our bodies.

To learn how to make Sauerkraut at home and start incorporating more fermented foods into your diet, watch my video - Traditional Sauerkraut 101

Stay tuned for my upcoming Healthy Gut Program where I teach you how to balance your Gut Microbiome using food!

In good health!



Fermented foods, neuroticism, and social anxiety: An interaction model, Matthew R. Hilimire et al, Psychiatry Research, Volume 228, Issue 2, 15 August 2015, Pages 203–208

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of a probiotic in emotional symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, A Venket Rao et al, Gut Pathog. 2009; 1: 6.

A randomized controlled trial to test the effect of multispecies probiotics on cognitive reactivity to sad mood , Laura Steenbergena et al, Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, Volume 48, August 2015, Pages 258–264

Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve, Javier A. Bravo et al, PNAS vol. 108 no. 38 16050–16055

Systematic Review of Intestinal Microbiota Transplantation (Fecal Bacteriotherapy) for Recurrent Clostridium difficile Infection , Ethan Gough et al, Clin Infect Dis. (2011)   53(10):  994-1002.