Fermented Foods May Help Reduce Anxiety

fermented_cabbageCan adding more fermented foods to your diet benefit your mental health? It seems it might, say researchers from the University of Maryland and the College of William & Mary. They recently completed a joint study linking the consumption of fermented foods to reduced social anxiety among young adults.

More than 700 college students participated in the study, and each was asked to fill out a detailed questionnaire that inquired about dietary habits—especially fermented food consumption—as well as how often they exercised. The main finding, according to researchers, was that that young adults who ate more fermented foods displayed fewer symptoms of social anxiety, particularly those with a genetic predisposition toward anxiety disorders.

At the heart of it all is what scientists call the gut-brain connection—the relationship between our gut bacteria and healthy brain function. The more scientists learn about the trillions of different microbes that reside in our intestinal tract, the more they are beginning to understand how closely linked the human microbiome is to healthy brain function, mood, and behavior.

“It is likely that the probiotics in the fermented foods are favorably changing the environment in the gut, and changes in the gut in turn influence social anxiety,” said William & Mary Psychology Professor Matthew Hilimire. He and his colleagues plan to continue investigating the gut-brain connection in a series of upcoming studies.

We know good nutrition plays a key role in physical health, but we often forget how connected it is to our mental health. Researchers believe new findings such as these point to the possibility that low-risk nutritional changes may be part of a comprehensive strategy to promote optimal mental health.

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Study: Men Who Exercise Regularly Live Longer

man-running-beachDoes your weekly routine include a daily run or a few mornings at the gym? It turns out you may be doing your body a big favor. According to a new report, just 30 minutes of physical activity each day gives older men the advantage when it comes to longevity.

The new findings, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, come from the long-term Oslo study, which followed more than 15,000 men born between 1923 and 1932. Throughout the study, researchers monitored the participants’ general physical health and placed them in one of four groups based on their level of daily exercise: sedentary, light exercisers, moderate exercisers, and vigorous exercisers.

Overall, researchers concluded that men in their 60s and 70s who were moderate or vigorous exercisers (getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day, six days a week) tended to live about five years longer than their sedentary counterparts—and that in terms of a longer lifespan, exercise was equally beneficial to quitting smoking.

Previous studies have shown that regular exercise not only helps seniors maintain mobility later in life but also promotes heart health and helps decrease the risk of having a heart attack. In light of this new data, the research team stressed the importance of promoting daily exercise as part of an overall health strategy for elderly men.

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