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The #1 Best Food to Help Social Anxiety, Says Science

Mental health and body health approved!
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

Anxiety is the intense, excessive, and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations, and can be caused by a number of factors. There are several types of anxiety a person can face, one of them being social anxiety. Social anxiety, or social phobia, involves high levels of anxiety, fear and avoidance of social situations because of feelings of embarrassment and self-consciousness, as well as concern about being judged or negatively viewed by others.

Luckily, there are methods to help conquer that fear, food being one of them. According to a study done by the Psychiatric Research Journal, the #1 best type of food to help social anxiety are fermented foods. 

Fermented foods are foods that are produced through controlled microbial growth–an increase in the number of cells– and the conversion of food components through enzymatic action– the conversion of the starch to simple sugars. Fermented foods provide a lot of health benefits, including balanced blood sugar levels, healthy skin, and a mood boost.

For the research, a sample of young adults completed self-report measures of fermented food consumption, neuroticism—a broad personality trait dimension representing the degree to which a person experiences the world as distressing, threatening, and unsafe—and social anxiety. There was also an interaction model that controlled the demographics, general consumption of healthful foods, and exercise frequency. It showed that exercise frequency, neuroticism, and fermented food consumption significantly and independently predicted social anxiety.

Further results also showed that eating fermented food helped with neuroticism in predicting social anxiety. Specifically, for those high in neuroticism, a larger intake of fermented food was associated with fewer symptoms of social anxiety.

Array of fermented foods
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The research also suggests that the results of this study plus previous studies advocate that fermented foods containing probiotics may have a protective effect against social anxiety symptoms for those at higher genetic risk if they have neuroticism.

While additional research is further needed, these results propose that consuming fermented foods that contain probiotics may serve as a low-risk intervention for reducing social anxiety.

The Nutrients Journal says that high-fermented foods and drinks that contain natural or additive probiotics include yogurt, kefir, pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha, tempeh, miso, kimchi, and sourdough bread.

Exercise is another method to try if you're looking to incorporate more than just fermented foods into your daily routine.  The Cleveland Clinic also suggests trying these techniques:

  • Practicing public speaking
  • Trying cognitive behavioral therapy – therapy that involves making changes to the way you think and feel about a situation, which, in turn, can help you modify your behavior
  • Slowly making your way into anxiety-inducing situations, such as small group activities.
  • Asking for help
  • Being kind to yourself

Would you like more information on anxiety? If so, try reading These 5 Foods May Naturally Lower Your Anxiety, New Study Suggests.

Kayla Garritano
Kayla Garritano is a Staff Writer for Eat This, Not That! She graduated from Hofstra University, where she majored in Journalism and double minored in Marketing and Creative Writing. Read more about Kayla