Fermented Foods Might Reduce Social Anxiety

Start spooning out the sauerkraut: A new study finds that fermented foods may play a role in mediating social anxiety.

The digestive system is involved in more than just processing food; it’s linked to mood, emotions, and more. Researchers have only recently begun to understand the true importance of the bacteria that live in our bodies, and it seems that fermented foods might interact with the human microbiome in a way that reduces our most neurotic tendencies. 

Fermented foods contain live bacteria, or probiotics, which influence the makeup of the bacterial colonies that live in your gut. In a study published in Psychiatry Research, regular consumption of fermented foods like sauerkraut or kimchi predicted lower social anxiety, at least in young people.  

The researchers, from the College of William & Mary and the University of Maryland, studied 700 university psychology students through questionnaires about their eating habits, exercise regimens, neurotic personality traits, and social anxiety levels. They found that people who had higher genetic predisposition to anxiety (as shown through neuroticism) but ate a lot of fermented food had fewer symptoms of social anxiety than those who didn’t eat a lot of kimchi. 

Previous research has suggested that probiotics could be a potential treatment for depression and anxiety disorders, but this indicates they could also help with lower levels of anxiety, too. Now don’t forget to eat your pickled vegetables before you hit up that networking event. 

[h/t: Medical Daily]

College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy

One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

North America: East or West Coast?


More from mental floss studios