Fermented foods best for the brain

May 16, 2023 | Biology

Diet affects our mental health. Countless research has shown how some foods have short- to long-term positive impacts on the brain and the reduction of stress. It includes fermented foods - such as kimchi or kombucha - which are good sources of tryptophan, an amino acid that is crucial in the production of serotonin responsible for mood. They are staple in many countries and are ingrained in their rich culture and diet.

Over the years, there seems to be a rise in consumption of fermented products and some of them have gone viral in their popularity. It seems that there is more logic offered to fermented foods than just a mere method of preservation.

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A team of researchers at APC Microbiome, University of College Cork, and Teagasc, collaborated for a large study in which they compared sequencing data from over 200 foods coming from all over the world, looking for certain metabolites that are known to be beneficial to brain health. Still in the preliminary stages of the research, they were surprised to discover how almost all of the 200 fermented foods have the ability to improve gut and brain health.

The underlying mechanism rests on how the fermented sugar takes the raw sugar substrate, converting it into metabolites that have a beneficial effect on the host. The sugar gets used by the microbial community.

However, more research and rigorous testing is needed in determining which groups of fermented food had the greatest effects on the human brain and doing it on artificial colon and various animal models to gauge how these metabolites affect the brain. The result encourages individuals to include fermented foods in their diet as a natural way to support their mental health and general well-being.

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