IF YOU’RE so stressed that booking in for a massage or yoga session would just give you more time to fret, you could try eating more pasta.
High-fibre foods can help combat anxiety by making our guts healthier, according to a new report.
They encourage bacteria to produce short-chain fatty acids that stop germs and undigested material leaking into the rest of the body, researchers say.
This was found to prevent the impact of stress on the gut from creating a knock-on effect on the brain.
Prof John Cryan, lead author of the study, said: ‘There is a growing recognition of the role of gut bacteria and the chemicals they make in the regulation of physiology and behaviour. The role of short-chain fatty acids in this process is poorly understood up until now.’
Stress experienced over a prolonged period of time can make the gut prone to leaks, with more material passing through undigested than it should.
This causes inflammation that can lead to irritable bowel syndrome as well as depression and anxiety.
Tests on mice showed that increasing the levels of short-chain fatty acids makes the gut less leaky.
Behavioural tests revealed the mice became more sociable and were less likely to be anxious, says the study in the Journal of Physiology.
Prof Cryan, of University College Cork in Ireland, said: ‘It will be crucial that we look at whether short-chain fatty acids can ameliorate symptoms of stress-related disorders in humans.’
High-fibre foods that stimulate the acids include wholegrain pasta, breakfast cereals, broccoli, carrots, peas, berries and pears.
■ THE first drug designed to prevent migraines has been approved by the European Medicines Agency. Erenumab will be available only to patients in Europe suffering at least four migraines a month. It is expected to be considered by English and Scottish health agencies for NHS use, but manufacturer Novartis said it would be available privately in the UK in September.