Here is a fun article about how sauerkraut, pickles, and other fermented foods can potentially decrease social anxiety. Who would have thought?! The article briefly describes some new research out of William & Mary College. The research study found that its 700 test subjects were less likely to experience social anxiety if they ate fermented foods. The benefit was especially strong in folks with a potential genetic predisposition. The study also found that test subjects were less likely to be socially anxious if they exercised regularly, although that's somewhat less groundbreaking news.
These fun results hint at what scientists call the second brain or the mind-gut connection. This is a relatively new area of science that we are just starting to understand better. Basically, the chemistry in our gut can affect our mental health. According to this new study, the probiotics in fermented foods, like sauerkraut, improve the chemistry in our gut, which in turn can improve our mental state. As interesting as this new study is, I don't think fermented foods are the "secret" cure to our anxiety woes... but it can't hurt to put a little extra sauerkraut on top of your next hot dog!