Researchers Suggest That Eating A Certain Kind Of Diet Can Reduce Stress Levels Greatly

I’m confident to say that most people, if not all, have experienced stress eating.

Whether you’re aware of the fact that you’re doing it because you’re stressed, or you may have just found yourself unable to satisfy an unknown craving – more often than not, it’s because of emotional eating.

PHOTO: Unsplash/Henley Design Studio

Stress typically reduces one’s appetite, but our body can actually increase its appetite because of an increase in cortisol if we stay stressed.

Comfort foods are usually high-fat or sugary, and this is not healthy. Read this article about how emotional eating is bad for your heart.

So how can we hit two birds with one stone? Reduce the levels of stress while you eat and still be healthy.

That’s what this new study, “Feed your microbes to deal with stress: a psychobiotic diet impacts microbial stability and perceived stress in a healthy adult population,” is trying to suggest.

Just managing what you eat and increasing the amount of fermented foods and foods that are rich in fiber can actually reduce a person’s perceived stress level. Digging deeper into the effects of a diet when it comes to our mental health, the researchers investigated the influence of a psychobiotic diet, a diet that is high in prebiotic and fermented foods, on mental health in a healthy human population.

In the study, the researchers recruited 45 healthy people with low-fiber diets, and they were randomized and split into two groups to follow a diet, one of which is a psychobiotic diet and the other the control, for 4 weeks.

PHOTO: Unsplash/Jannis Brandt

The group with the psychobiotic diet was given individual education sessions with a dietitian at the start and halfway through the study. Those in this healthier diet group were told to include 6-8 servings of high-fiber fruits and vegetables per day, 5-8 servings of grain per day, 2-3 servings of fermented food, and 3-4 servings of legumes per week. Check this article to find out which foods are high in prebiotics. Those assigned to the control group were given dietary advice based on the healthy eating food pyramid.

The results? Those on the psychobiotic diet were found to be less stressed than those on the control diet, with a 32% reduction of perceived stress from those on the psychobiotic diet. Another unexpected result also showed that a healthier diet also greatly improved the quality of sleep.

“Our results suggest specific diets can be used to reduce perceived stress levels. This kind of diet may also help to protect mental health in the long run as it targets the microbes in the gut,” said the researchers.

PHOTO: Unsplash/Heather Ford

In the end, the researchers acknowledge that their study is limited by the small number of participants and its short duration and that long-term studies will be needed to tackle this topic again.

“Still, our study offers exciting evidence that an effective way to reduce stress may be through diet. It will be interesting to know if these results can also be replicated in people suffering from stress-related disorders, such as anxiety and depression,” the researchers said.

Instead of stocking up on chocolates and pizza (both my comfort foods), try going for the more healthy options! Here’s to less stress and more health!

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