Fermented foods such as kombucha and kimchi are good for our gut—but they’re also good for our brains.
The foods improve brain functioning—such as problem solving and memory—and help reduce stress, say researchers from University College Cork.
Fermented foods contain tryptophan, amino acids that help produce serotonin, which are important messengers in the brain that help maintain healthy functioning. They also promote neurotransmitters, which help parts of the brain communicate with each other.
Although the foods are known to help the gut, the researchers were surprised to discover they are also good for the brain.
The researchers have started to evaluate the health-giving properties of around 200 fermented foods and have discovered that all of them help improve gut and brain health. But there a few surprising early leaders that may have the biggest impact on the brain: fermented sugar-based foods and fermented vegetables.
“For all that we see on sugar-based foods being demonised, fermented sugar converts into a plethora of metabolites that can have beneficial effects,” said Ramya Balasubramanian, one of the researchers.