Fermented foods could lower your stress levels

Revealed: The fermented foods which could transform your mood AND lower your stress levels

  • Fermented foods could help to benefit mental health, according to a new study 
  • Findings shows that there is a direct link between the brain and microbiome
  • Experts told FEMAIL how foods like kimchi and sauerkraut could lower stress

Fermented foods, such as kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and some yoghurts, have seen a surge in popularity over the last few years given their benefits for our gut health.

But now experts have revealed that fermented food could also benefit a person’s mental health in a new study carried out by scientists from University College Cork in Ireland.

As our gut and brain are constantly in communication with each other, ensuring we maintain our gut health, consuming fermented foods alongside a balanced and diverse diet rich in fibre, fruit and vegetables may help reduce negative feelings.

Rhiannon Lambert, registered nutritionist and author of ‘The Science of Nutrition’ told FEMAIL that when we feel stressed our bodies go through a process known as the ‘fight-or-flight response’. 

Fermented foods, such as kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and some yoghurts, have increased in popularity over the last few years given their benefits for our gut health – but experts have now told FEMAIL how they could also help with mental health 

She said: ‘This prepares your body both physiologically and psychologically to deal with the incoming stressors by increasing your heart rate and breathing rate, as well as diverting blood flow away from areas such as the digestive system which are less important in times of stress.

‘This means that often if we feel stressed we may experience digestive and gut health issues.’

By adding more fermented foods into your diet you can restore this balance.

Simple additions to your diet such as natural yogurt for breakfast or adding sauerkraut to your lunchtime salad can be integral to maintaining a healthy balanced gut microbiome, which consequently means a balanced temperament.

Pauline Cox MSc functional nutritionist, author and nutritional advisor to Wiley’s Finest sustainable supplements explained that sauerkraut is a popular fermented cabbage dish that has a number of health benefits.

It is rich in beneficial probiotics, a source of healthy fibre as well as being a source of vitamin C, a daily dose of sauerkraut is a simple and cost-effective way of supporting your health.

Pauline said: ‘When buying sauerkraut, ensure it is raw and unpasteurised and found in health food shop fridges, as opposed to the unrefrigerated jars on supermarket shelves. It’s also cheap and easy to make yourself.’

Other great options include kefir and kombucha, which have increased in popularity and are now available in most supermarkets.

Rhiannon said: ‘These are the types of probiotic foods which have live strains of bacteria and are consumed to directly increase the population of the “good” bacteria which lives in our gut.

‘Research suggests probiotics, like fermented foods are mainly of benefit when your gut microbiome is out of balance, for example, to relieve diarrhoea caused by infection or after a course of antibiotics.

‘Although limited, there is also some evidence suggestion certain types of live bacteria strains found in probiotics may reduce symptoms such as bloating in IBS.’

The fermented foods experts recommend adding to YOUR diet 


A brilliant alternative to meat, tempeh is made from fermented soybeans that have been pressed into a compact cake. It is high in protein and can be baked, steamed, or sautéed. It is also rich in many nutrients and soy protein has been shown to help reduce certain risk factors for heart disease.


This popular Japanese seasoning has a deep umami taste. Made from fermented soybeans it is great for gut health. Studies have shown its numerous health benefits including lowering the risk of breast cancer and risk of stroke.


Made from the likes of fermented cabbage and other veggies such as radishes, Kimchi is a popular Korean side dish boasting an array of health benefits including lowering cholesterol and reducing insulin resistance. It works as a side to just about anything including toasties and stir fries.


Sauerkraut is a popular condiment consisting of shredded cabbage that has been fermented by lactic acid bacteria. It’s low in calories but contains plenty of fiber and vitamins C and K. The antioxidant content of sauerkraut also boasts promising effects on cancer prevention.


Live yoghurts not only contain calcium and protein but because the milk has been fermented using lactic acid bacteria they are also packed full of nutrients like vitamin B12 and potassium. The bacterial cultures lower the risk of certain conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and rheumatoid arthritis. 

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