Scientists from APC Microbiome Ireland and elsewhere found that fermented foods and fiber may help people reduce stress.
The impact of diet on gut health and the role of diet in supporting optimal mental health has received much attention.
Fermented foods became an important part of the diet in many cultures, and over time fermentation has been associated with many health benefits.
In addition, microorganisms contributing to the fermentation process have recently been associated with many health benefits.
Previous research has shown that fermented foods provide many health benefits such as anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic.
Prebiotics are compounds in food that induce the growth or activity of beneficial microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi.
Prebiotic foods are high in special types of fiber that support digestive health. They have also been shown to improve metabolic health and even help prevent certain diseases.
In the study, researchers examined the influence of a psychobiotic diet (high in prebiotic and fermented foods) on gut health and function as well as on mental health in healthy adults.
They tested 45 people who were assigned to either a psychobiotic or control diet for 4 weeks.
The team also tested stress, overall health, and diet using validated questionnaires.
The researchers found that people in the psychobiotic diet group had a reduction of perceived stress (32% in a diet vs. 17% in the control group).
Additionally, higher adherence to the diet resulted in stronger decreases in perceived stress. But biological marker of stress was not affected.
While the dietary intervention caused only subtle changes in gut microbial composition and function, there were strong changes in the level of 40 specific fecal lipids and urinary tryptophan metabolites.
In addition, microbial volatility was linked to greater changes in perceived stress scores in those on the psychobiotic diet.
These results highlight that dietary approaches can be used to reduce perceived stress in human participants.
Dietary intervention holds possibilities for the reduction of stress and stress-associated disorders.
But additional research needs to examine the underlying mechanisms, including the role of the gut microbiota.
The research was published in Molecular Psychiatry and conducted by Kirsten Berding et al.
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