Magazine article USA TODAY

It's Not All in Your Mind

Magazine article USA TODAY

It's Not All in Your Mind

Article excerpt

Psychologists traditionally have looked to the mind to help people living with mental health issues, but a study led by researchers at the College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Va., and University of Maryland, College Park, shows that the stomach also may play a key role, suggesting that the old adage "you are what you eat" is more than a cliche.

W&M's Matthew Hilimire and Catherine Forestell joined with Jordan DeVylder, assistant professor in the UM School of Social Work, to investigate a possible connection between fermented foods, which contain probiotics--live bacteria and yeasts that are good for health, especially the digestive system--and social anxiety. The researchers' gut feeling was right when they found that young adults who eat more fermented foods have fewer social anxiety symptoms, with the effect being greatest among those at genetic risk for social anxiety disorder as measured by neuroticism.

"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," says Hilimire, assistant professor of psychology. …

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