Is it possible to get rid of stress in 4 weeks?
Researchers have known for some time that what we eat affects our mental health. However, most research on dietary interventions for neurological health has focused on single foods rather than dietary approaches. That’s why scientists in Cork, Ireland set out to find out if a psychobiotic diet designed to improve gut health can have a positive impact on mental well-being with a new molecular psychiatry study!
Read on to learn more about the psychobiotic diet and the research findings.
What is a psychobiotic diet?
The concept of the psychobiotic diet was coined by study co-authors Timothy “Ted” Dinan and John Cryan. This type of diet focuses on the gut-brain axis, favoring foods known to support gut microbial balance (whole grains, prebiotic fruits and vegetables, legumes, fermented foods). And of course, it also stops the consumption of sugary, processed foods and drinks…
The psychobiotic diet used in the scientific study included the following nutrients:
- 6-8 servings of prebiotic-fiber-rich fruits and vegetables per day (eg, apples, bananas, leeks, onions)
- 5-8 servings of whole grains per day (eg, oats, whole wheat, quinoa)
- 2-3 servings of fermented foods per day (eg sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha)
- 3-4 servings of legumes per week (e.g. chickpeas, lentils, peas)
The study was conducted on 45 healthy adults (18-59 years old) with suboptimal eating habits. The study group was informed about the components of the psychobiotic diet and asked to adhere to it as much as possible. The control group was given minimal information about general nutrition (rather than information about psychobiotics).
The researchers examined stool microbiota composition, stress, general health, and metabolic profile of blood, urine, and stool samples before and after a four-week trial period for both groups.
How does a psychobiotic diet affect mental well-being?
According to the results of the study, participants who followed the psychobiotic diet experienced a more dramatic reduction in perceived stress. Although there were no significant differences in response to stress between the control and study groups, more rigorous adherence to the psychobiotic diet resulted in a greater reduction in perceived stress.
While changes in gut microbial composition were not significant for the study group, significant changes in 40 specific fecal lipids (due to a decrease in total dietary fat and an increase in monounsaturated fats) and urinary tryptophan metabolites (an essential amino acid required for essential protein synthesis) and healthy inflammatory responses…
So far, we have included the details of the scientific study… But what does it all mean?
Participants who followed a psychobiotic diet rich in fiber and fermented foods for just four weeks experienced lower perceived stress levels, healthier gut motility, healthier inflammatory metabolite profiles, and improved microbial composition and function.
Thus, following a diet that includes healthy foods for the gut can support your mental health as well as your overall health. To do this, you can add foods rich in prebiotics and probiotics to your diet. Or you can try nutritional supplements to add prebiotic fiber, probiotic and postbiotic support as recommended by your doctor.
Either way, your gut-brain axis and mental health will thank you!
Bonus: Probiotic and Prebiotic Products
A prebiotic is a type of fiber that the human body cannot digest. It serves as food for probiotics, which are tiny living microorganisms, including bacteria and yeast. Both prebiotics and probiotics support beneficial bacteria in the gut.
A growing body of research, especially in recent years, shows that improving gut health can have a positive impact on overall health and mental well-being. This is why most people are more conscious of including probiotic and prebiotic foods in their diet.
Many foods are rich in probiotics, especially the following:
- Fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi
- Tea mushroom
- Traditional fermented buttermilk
- Fermented cheeses such as Gouda
If we come to prebiotics, that is, to the nutrients of beneficial bacteria in our intestines; We can say that they are found in many high-fiber foods, including some fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Some probiotic-rich foods may also contain prebiotics.
Here are some foods that contain prebiotics:
- sweet potato
Warning: A well-balanced diet that includes healthy and varied foods is likely to contain all of these important nutrients and more. If you feel like you need specific nutritional advice just for you, be sure to talk to your doctor or dietitian.
You may be interested in: The Link Between Gut Health and Anxiety
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