Feeling stressed? Try eating these “psychobiotic” gut-friendly foods

Toni Harman
6 min readOct 28, 2022

QUICK SUMMARY: A new study has found sticking to a specific “psychobiotic” diet that includes such foods as onions, leeks, cabbage, apples, bananas, oats, grains and legumes as well as sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir helps reduce stress and depressive symptoms. And it’s all to do with the gut microbiome.

For stress, depression, anxiety — try eating a diet of gut-friendly microbiome friendly foods
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A new study from APC Microbiome Ireland and University College Cork (UCC) has found eating certain “psychobiotic” foods for four weeks can change your mood.

The scientists were looking to see if eating specific “gut-friendly” prebiotic and fermented foods for four weeks could influence the gut microbiome, and in turn, reduce perception of stress and other markers of health via a microbiota-gut-brain connection.

The scientists found that compared to eating a “normal diet”, those people that stuck to a “psychobiotic” diet which included eating onions, leeks, cabbage, apples, bananas, oats, grains and legumes as well as sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir had reduced levels of stress and depressive symptoms.

This study is one of the first to provide evidence that changing a person’s diet can help alleviate stress.

To me, it makes total sense.

Fermented foods (e.g. sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir) are, in very simple terms, foods rich in friendly “beneficial” bacteria which are good for the human gut. These have been associated with a range of health benefits, including better digestion and immunity.

Prebiotic foods (e.g. onions, leeks, oats, grains etc) are foods that stimulate the growth of these friendly “beneficial” bacteria in the gut, which via various mechanisms, can impact the workings of the brain.

For me, this study provides further evidence that eating a healthy gut-friendly diet can be an accessible way to improve mental health.

The study was published 27th October 2022 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

More details about the study are below.

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The Study

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Toni Harman

I help parents and health professionals better understand the science of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and the microbiome. https://linktr.ee/toniharman