Fermented foods may aid anxiety

You know that coffee perks you up. And when you’re sad, mac and cheese can make you feel better. But could miso soup or sauerkraut help you feel less tense at parties?

Yes, according to a study published online in the journal Psychiatry Research. Psychologists from the College of William & Mary and the University of Maryland have found a connection between social anxiety and consumption of fermented foods that contain probiotics.

Analyzing results from more than 700 students, the researchers found that young adults who ate more of these probiotic-laden foods reported fewer anxiety symptoms such as sweaty palms and racing heart in social situations. The effect was greater among students who were inherently the most anxious.


Pollution may harm the brain

Exposure to air pollution may hasten brain aging, a study has found.

Researchers studied 1,403 women who were initially enrolled in a health study from 1996 to 1998. They measured their brain volume with magnetic resonance imaging scans in 2005 and 2006, when the women were 71 to 89. They used data recorded at monitoring sites on exposure to PM 2.5 — tiny particulate matter that easily penetrates the lungs.

Each increase of 3.49 micrograms per cubic centimeter cumulative exposure to pollutants was associated with a 6.23 cubic centimeter decrease in white matter, the equivalent of one to two years of brain aging. Past studies have shown that pollution can cause damage to the vascular system, but this study, in the Annals of Neurology, showed damage to the brain itself.


Surgery for Knee Pain May Not help

People in their 50s and older often have arthroscopic surgery for knee pain, but a new review of studies suggests that it has serious risks and no lasting benefits.

Danish researchers reviewed nine randomized trials including 1,270 patients ages 50 to 62. The patients had pain ranging from 36 to 100 on a 100-point scale, and surgery was compared with control treatments like sham surgery, drug treatment and exercise. The studies involved only surgery for pain caused by degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis, not surgery to repair traumatic injury to cartilage or ligaments.

Surgery provided slightly more pain relief than controls in the first six months. But there was no difference in pain scores between surgery and controls beyond that period.

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