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Study finds that probiotics might be all you need to ease your social anxiety

by , 30 June 2015

Probiotics AKA “friendly bacteria” are essential for digestive help, as you may already know. They'll assist with bloating, management of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and diarrhoea triggered by antibiotics or travelling if you eat them in considerable portions.

But what you don't know is that probiotics can also help curb social anxiety. This goes according to a new study published in the journal Psychiatry Research.

Read on to find out more about the interesting study conducted by researchers at the College of William and Mary in Virginia in the US.

Eating fermented foods could put your social anxiety to rest, study finds

The study included more than 700 students (mostly women) enrolled in an intro psychology class. Each participant filled out a questionnaire about his or her consumption of fermented foods (like yoghurt and sauerkraut).
Participants also answered personality questionnaires designed to tease out patterns of neuroticism (a personality trait) and social anxiety.
In the end, researchers concluded that people with neurotic personalities were more likely to experience social anxiety, and that eating fermented foods lowered symptoms of this psychological disorder.
Here’s what to eat to ward off social awkwardness…

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Four of the best probiotic-rich foods

#1: Sauerkraut
Think beyond Oktoberfest! Eat this goodie year round “as is” as an easy side dish, add it to garden salads and sandwiches, or include a dollop on top of soup, cooked or chilled lentils, hummus, or potatoes.
#2: Kimchi
Add this Korean staple, typically made from fermented cabbage, radishes, or cucumbers, to omelettes, veggie salads, whole grain rice or noodles, or use kimchi as a topping for tacos, pizza, or “clean” lean proteins, like seafood, poultry, or beans.
#3: Yoghurt
Make it sweet or savoury – you choose! Use plain yogurt, seasoned with garlic, black pepper and herbs as a dip, or the base of a dressing for slaw, potatoes, or chilled veggie sides, like dill cucumbers. Or, sweeten yogurt with fruit, along with herbs and spices like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, or mint. Add nuts and whole grains, like rolled oats, or cooked, chilled quinoa, to make muesli, or layered parfaits.
#4: Kefir
Drink kefir straight up, whip it into smoothies, or stir in add-ins, like fruit and shaved dark chocolate, and pour into popsicle moulds. Plain kefir can also be seasoned in savoury ways and used for sauces and dressing. If you don’t eat dairy you can find plant-based versions of both yogurt and kefir.
Alternatively, you can consider a probiotic supplement. But I recommend only doing so if you’re healthy! Otherwise, check with your doctor first. If you have allergies or intolerances, read the ingredients list carefully. 
Some probiotic supps contain gluten, soy or milk derivatives. Look for one that contain about five billion CFUs. What are CFUs, you ask? They indicate the number of live active cultures per pill. Talk to your doctor or personal nutritionist about which brand or strains of bacteria are best for you. Also, be sure to check the expiration date, keep the pills either refrigerated or away from heat and light (check the label) to preserve the bacteria, and don’t exceed the recommended dose.

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