You may be aware that certain foods can interfere with your sleep. When you’re stressed, you should also avoid certain foods. A new study, on the other hand, discovered that eating a “psychobiotic diet” may not only reduce stress but also help you get a better night’s sleep.
The study, published in Molecular Psychiatry in October 2022, included 45 adults between the ages of 18 and 59 who typically ate a low-fiber diet.
While all participants were counseled by a trained dietician, researchers from APC Microbiome Ireland at the University College Cork divided the individuals into two groups and instructed them to consume different diets.
The first change was to a diet based on the food pyramid. The second group was instructed to follow a “psychobiotic diet” that included a high intake of prebiotic and fermented foods. According to Dr. John Cryan, the principal author of this study, his research team created the term “psychobiotic diet” to refer to “microbiota-targeted therapies that improve mental health.”
The second group was told to stick to a daily menu that included 2–3 servings of fermented foods (like sauerkraut, kefir, or kombucha), 5–8 servings of grains, and 6–8 servings of prebiotic-rich fruits and vegetables. Also, they were told to eat 3–4 servings of legumes every week.
The results demonstrated that while both groups experienced an improvement in sleep quality, those who consumed a psychobiotic diet also experienced a reduction in the amount and intensity of stress they may have been experiencing at the time. The greater the participant’s adherence to the psychobiotic diet, the greater the reduction in reported stress.
“The study shows that a psychobiotic diet may help with digestion and stress,” Catherine Gervacio, RD, a registered dietitian and contributor at Living Fit, tells Eat This, Not That!
“Stress affects the health of your digestive system and can make it harder to absorb the nutrients you need to deal with stress and other risks that may come with it. Even though more research is needed, this shows how important diet and nutrition are for managing stress and sleep.”
While Gervacio claims that “this type of diet still walks the path of healthy eating and adheres to the recommended intake of food,” she adds that “people need to know, however, that all diets must be thoroughly reviewed first if a person can better benefit from it—or there may be other diets that fit their health data and fitness goals.”
Gervacio uses the example of “a person who needs a low histamine diet may not profit from psychobiotic cuisine and can do well with Mediterranean instead.” As a result, she advises, “it is best to consult with a professional before beginning a diet.”
Gervacio goes on to say, “More research is needed to demonstrate that probiotics have a major impact on stress and sleep. Until then, everyone should focus on eating well and practicing stress and sleep management techniques.”