The Role of Diet in Treating Stress and Trauma


Psychobiotics – First Steps to Feeling Better

In 2013, Dinan et al.,coined the term psychobiotics to describe emerging evidence that probiotics are useful in alleviating symptoms of depression and chronic fatigue syndrome. Even though use of probiotics should be guided by an expert in their use to avoid counterproductive results, here are suggestions drawing from several authors that I think assist many people suffering from stress and/or trauma:

  • Reduce intake of processed sugars and processed foods. Avoid artificial ingredients wherever possible, in particular, artificial sweeteners, food coloring, and monosodium glutamate.
  • Eat whole foods as much as possible, especially vegetables and fruits of diverse colors.
  • Make planning a key aspect of eating, for if you do not, you will repeatedly be at the mercy of the eating practices of businesses and people who do not take nutrition seriously. When you eat out, pay attention in advance so you can arrange healthy options. Always carry snacks with you, so you aren’t forced to eat whatever is within reach.
  • Keep a food symptoms journal to pay attention to what your body is telling you. Soon enough you will learn what foods you are reacting to, and will be able to eliminate those from your diet.
  • Take a look at this helpful guidance from Dr. Terry Wahls, professor of medicine at University of Iowa, about inflamation and diseases and at this link get quick ideas on foods to avoid. You can find many more online.
  • If you can’t make these changes right now, or if you try, and find them too difficult, give yourself a break. Try again when you can. Find a Facebook support group, or if there is none, create one. Simply aim to do the best that you can now, and there is always tomorrow to try again.
  • Remember that YOU are the only authority on your body. If a medication or food makes you feel bad or worse, and your medical professional does not support you, find one who does.


Dinan, T. G., Stanton, C., & Cryan, J. F. (2013). Psychobiotics: a novel class of psychotropic. Biological psychiatry, 74(10), 720-726.

Mayer, E. A., Knight, R., Mazmanian, S. K., Cryan, J. F., & Tillisch, K. (2014). Gut microbes and the brain: paradigm shift in neuroscience. The Journal of Neuroscience, 34(46), 15490-15496.

Healthy food photo available from Shutterstock

The Role of Diet in Treating Stress and Trauma

Odelya Gertel Kraybill, Ph.D.

Dr. Odelya Gertel Kraybill was born and raised in Israel. Her personal journey as a trauma survivor has led her to become a trauma specialist and therapist. She was a Fulbright scholar and focused on trauma studies in three graduate studies programs in the U.S. Odelya has lived in and worked with trauma survivors in Israel, Lesotho, Philippines and the U.S. She is a graduate adjunct faculty member at the George Washington University art therapy program and is widely recognized as a blogger on stress and trauma integration at Visit her on Facebook.


APA Reference
Gertel Kraybill, O. (2015). The Role of Diet in Treating Stress and Trauma. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 29 Jul 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Jul 2015
Published on All rights reserved.