How Food Can Boost Your Mental Health
There are a lot of things which create our happiness, from family and friends, to pets, exercise and of course, food!
Every day we consume a variety of food that benefits our physical health, but researchers have found some foods may also have a positive impact on our mental health too.
With recent scientific evidence indicating the microorganism, probiotics, can increase happiness, our latest post explores why and how it can help boost your mood!
Are There Any Risks Involved
Probiotics are pretty safe, largely because they already exist naturally in your body. Theyre also found in many foods you likely already eat.
However, if you have a weakened immune system or cancer, its best to avoid probiotics so you dont overload your system. They can also interact with some medications, including antibiotics and some antifungal treatments.
Its always best to check with your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement, especially if youre:
- living with a chronic health condition
When talking to your provider, make sure to tell them about any medications you take, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, or other supplements.
Can Probiotics Treat Chronic Conditions
If, in theory, bacteria have a role in these chronic conditions, perhaps changing the intestinal bacteria by adding probiotics might help treat chronic illnesses. Probiotics have been utilized widely in countries like China and Japan for decades, primarily in the form of fermented milk. In addition, there are a number of animal studies that suggest probiotics may be helpful for conditions like diarrhea or colitis. Unfortunately, probiotics have not yet been shown to treat much human disease.
A recent article in Annals of General Psychiatry reviewed the currently available medical literature on using probiotics to treat anxiety and depression. The doctors identified 10 studies that were well done , and looked at each study in depth. All of these studies had relatively small numbers of patients, ranging as from as few as 42 to as many as 124. The results of these studies were mixed some suggested that there may be mild benefits of taking probiotics if you have anxiety or depression while other studies showed no benefit. Overall, the authors concluded the clinical effects of probiotics on mental health have yet to be studied comprehensively.
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Jarrow Formulas Ideal Bowel Support
Those that dont want to populate their gut with a myriad of bacteria may want to consider Jarrow Formulas Ideal Bowel Support product. The product consists solely of an L. Plantarum strain with 10 billion CFUs per capsule. Many users have testified that this product has improved their gastrointestinal function.
Whether L. Plantarum is thought to decrease inflammatory biomarkers, preserve cognition, and enhance BNDF production in animals. Whether something similar occurs among humans that supplement with it isnt fully understood. Although this product is a single strain, it has relatively low CFUs per capsule compared to others at 10 billion.
Probiotics And Brain Health
Probiotics have been used for many years to help relieve bloating and soothe occasional diarrhea, as well as constipation. Recent research suggests that probiotics may also help boost the immune system, balance blood sugar levels, and support the health of the vascular lining. Now, researchers are looking at the microbiome-gut-brain axis to see to what extent probiotics and mental health may be intertwined.
Probiotics introduce beneficial bacteria into the stomach. Then, the gastrointestinal system communicates with the brain and central nervous system via a critical biochemical communication loop . Through this communications pathway, the gut and the brain form a two-way connection to help the brain regulate gut activity, and vice versa.
In fact, the stomach is often referred to as the second brain because the microbiome in the gut makes many of the same neurotransmitters the brain produces. Thus, improving gut health may positively influence the production of crucial hormones and other neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. This is how probiotics and the brain are linked, through this central nervous system connection.
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How Do Probiotics Help Mental Health
Probiotics are a live beneficial bacterium, that is naturally created by the process of fermentation in foods.
You may not realise, but probiotics can be found in your everyday diet, including yogurts and cheese, but also in goods such as kefir, salted gherkins and brine cured olives.
Researchers have found that eating pre and probiotics can minimise the effects of mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression and also protect the body against the mental effects of stress.
Not only this, but researchers continue to investigate whether probiotics can help ease bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and even autism.
The stomach may seem to be the last place to treat a mental illness, however bacteria can produce neurotransmitters, making the connection between the gut, your brain function and mental health.
In addition to mental health benefits, probiotics lead to an improved digestive function, reduction in inflammation and contribute to weight loss.
Although more research is needed to confirm whether probiotics have benefits to your mental health, studies show that there is potential, so dont give up on your fermented foods yet!
Which Probiotics Are Psychobiotics
Research is beginning to identify which probiotics have mild-altering effects and what those effects are. In studies in healthy people, different psychobiotics have been shown to boost mood and cognitive function and decrease stress and anxiety-like symptoms.
Certain psychobiotics have also been shown to treat depression, anxiety, and other mental health and cognitive issues in patients with psychological disorders and/or other medical conditions.
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Other Things That Can Affect Your Gut Bacteria
Keep in mind that there are many things that can directly alter your gut bacteria besides a probiotic. Hypothetically speaking, if you are sedentary and dont get any physical activity on a daily basis youll have dramatically different gut microbiota than if you jogged several miles per day or lifted weights. The effects of certain lifestyle changes on gut microbiota havent been fully elucidated, but consider that your: diet, drug usage, supplement regimen, environment, exercise, sleep, and stress level can influence your gut, which as is known, can alter brain function.
How Does The Gut
The gut is often referred to as the second brain, because it produces many of the same neurotransmitters or chemical messengers, as the brain does.
Neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid are made in both the brain and the gut and play key roles in regulating our moods and emotions.1
It is estimated that as much as 90% of the serotonin in our bodies also known as the feel good neurotransmitter, is made and stored in the cells lining the gastrointestinal system.3
Studies undertaken on animals have found that changing the balance of bacteria in the gut can alter brain chemistry and, in some cases, cause the animal to become more anxious. The brain can also exert a powerful influence on gut bacteria, with studies showing that even mild stress can alter the microbial balance in the digestive system.4
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Which Probiotics Are Best For Stress And Mood
Scientists are still some way off understanding the full impact of different strains of probiotic bacteria on our mood. Research is ongoing in this area, but it will most likely be quite some time before we are equipped with a list of the best strains of probiotics to support mental wellbeing. Based on our current level of understanding, and the clinical research data that we have available to us, the probiotic strains that would certainly merit being at the top of any selection criteria for probiotics to support our mood and wellbeing include:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus Rosell-52 and Bifidobacteria longum Rosell-175
- Bifidobacteria longum 1714
- Lactobacillus casei Shirota
Taking other steps to maintain a healthy gut environment and regulate the gut-brain axis could also be helpful to relieve stress. Eating plentiful amounts of fibre, including whole, unprocessed foods in our diet including lots of fruit and vegetables, taking moderate daily exercise, and keeping well hydrated, all help us to stress less and contribute to keeping our gut, or second brain healthy and happy. You may like to read the article: Dr. Aislings Seven Top Tips to Feel Less Stressed for further lifestyle tips for stress relief.
Benefits Reported For Depressed Mood Anxiety Adhd Autism And Dementia
Psychobiotics are a recently characterized class of probiotics that affect brain function via immune, neural, and metabolic pathways. Recent research findings suggest that certain psychobiotics may ameliorate symptoms of anxiety, depressed mood and autistic spectrum disorder, and may improve cognitive function in individuals with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers disorder and Parkinsons disease. This post is offered as a concise review of essential concepts and recent research findings in the broad area of psychobiotics.
The role of microorganisms in the gut-brain axis
The human gut contains trillions of microorganisms, a number far greater than the total number of cells in the body. Specific microorganisms that populate each persons gut are determined by a variety of factors including diet, gender, age, and genetics. Accumulating research findings from animal and human studies have established that gut microorganisms play important roles in regulating immune function, maintaining healthy energy balance and modulating the nervous system. Complex pathways in the gut-brain axis result in the co-occurrence of gastrointestinal disorders and disorders of the central nervous system when the microbiome is out of balance. Imbalances in or abnormally low populations of specific gut microorganisms have been found in individuals with major depressive disorder, ADHD, Alzheimers disease, Parkinsons disease, and autism.
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How It All Started
Years ago, scientists discovered that the makeup of friendlygut bacteria was different in people who haveobesity than in people with an average weight.
To learn more, researchers implanted friendly gut bacteria from the different types of people into special mice without gut bacteria and found:
- No weight change when the mice received gutbacteria from people of average weight.
- Weight gain when the gut bacteria wasfrom a person with obesity.
Given these findings, it seemed possible that gut bacteriaplay a role in regulating weight.
In humans, the only comparison researchers have to the mice study is with gut microbiota transplants , Dr. Cresci says. Doctors perform fecal transplants for people who have an overgrowth of bad pathogenic gut bacteria called Clostridioides difficile. They place stool from a healthy person into the colon of the person with C. diff.
Researchers are finding that many naturally thin patients who receive a fecal transplant become overweight over time, Dr. Cresci says. Since 40% of Americans have obesity, its likely that 40% of the gut microbiota transplants came from a person with obesity, possibly causing this unexpected weight gain.
The Vagus Nerve Connects Your Gut And Your Brain
Your gut and brain are connected by the vagus nerve, a major component of the autonomic nervous system which enables you to breathe, digest food, and swallow automatically. This nerve is able to send messages to your brain for your colon, and vice versa.
The connection between the two organs means that the gut-brain axis is becoming a vital player in mental health, illnesses that affect the brain, and even irritable bowel syndrome . It explains why stress can take a toll on your digestion, but also why digestive problems can make you unhappy.
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Probiotics Are Not Just Great For Your Gut Rather According To This Latest Research Its Also Amazing For Your Mental Health
It is a known fact that probiotics work wonderfully when it comes to gut health. But did you know that probiotics contain microbes that also help to boost your mental health? And this study is the recent proof that probiotics have a lot to do with our minds as well.
According to a review published in the journal BMJ Nutrition Prevention and Health, probiotics either taken alone or when combined with prebiotics, may help to ease symptoms of depression. But when it comes to anxiety, the researchers are a little unsure.
Our gut and brain are connected says the reportOur whole body is connected to one and another, and maybe thats why food has the kind of impact that it does on our mood. Foods with helpful bacteria in the gut are collectively known as probiotics, while prebiotics are compounds that help these bacteria to flourish.
A two-way relationship exists between the brain and the digestive tract, known as the gut-brain axis. And the possibility that the microbiomethe range and number of bacteria resident in the gutmight help ease mental illness has become a focus of interest in recent years.
Between 2003 and 2019, plenty of studies have looked at the potential therapeutic contribution of pre- and probiotics in adults with depression and/or anxiety disorders.
Out of the 12 different probiotics that were investigated, 11 were potentially useful.
Probiotics For Anxiety: Types Of Probiotics Different Probiotic Strains And Probiotics Side Effects
“Healthy gut bacteria will have a positive effect on the brain and our moods,” reports Frontiers. “‘Happy gut bacteria’ will help us to have ‘happy brains.'”
All probiotics work to support a healthier gut and thus improve your mental health, including helping you to better manage stress and anxiety.
But beyond just boosting your positive emotions and reducing anxiety, each different probiotic strains has its own unique properties:
Lactobacillus: 22 of 24 recent trials documented Lactobacillus’ positive effect on anxiety, with most studies showing it reduced anxiety symptoms compared to placebos.
Both Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus are widely found in supplements and foods throughout Europe and North America. Within each different probiotic strain, you can also find recent reports on how specific varieties affect your mental health.
For example, Lactobacillus plantarum 299v and Lactobacillus rhamnosus have both recently been highlighted in studies as being especially potent probiotics for anxiety. More research needs to be done on specific strains, but the general consensus is that most probiotic strains are beneficial for your gut, and thus enhance your brain health.
The jury is still out, reports John Hopkins University, which cautions against using them as a replacement for any prescribed mood-managing medication.
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Can Probiotics Improve Your Mood
By now, we know that a healthy diet is important for physical well-being. Researchers are studying whether probiotics live bacteria that are safe to eat can improve gastrointestinal health and your mood.
Probiotics are what we believe to be good organisms that are beneficial to our health. But do they work?
Proposed Mechanism Of Action Of Psychobiotics
According to Misra & Mohanty, psychobiotics should essentially synthesize neurochemicals like GABA, 5-HT, modulate BDNF and neurotransmitter production, abrogate lipid peroxidation but improve on omega-3 fatty acid and phytochemical levels . Additionally, they should inhibit dysbiosis from pathogens and resist stress related shifts in intestinal microbiota, control overproduction of inflammatory cytokines and intestinal barrier instability, Since no clear cut definition of psychobiotics is available yet from WHO/FAO/FDA, the above criteria may serve as a starting point for screening and analyzing the strains for potential psychobiotic efficiency. Body of literature has emerged from the investigations on the established probiotic strains for their neuro-modulatory effects. Probiotic strains, Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 and Limosilactobacillus reuteri modulated the enteric nervous system thereby depleting action potential in electrically stimulated mesenteric nerves . Such neuro-modulatory effects have been correlated with metabolism of hormones, immune factors and metabolites like GABA, serotonin etc. and their precursors .
Animal and Human studies have revealed that psychobiotics contribute to neuronal modulations by production of metabolites. Some of these metabolites are:
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Faqs About Probiotics And Mood
Can probiotics improve mood?
While there is still more study needed on the relationship between probiotics and mood, research has demonstrated a clear link between the gut biome, the nervous system, and emotional wellbeing. Similarly, the lack of good bacteria in the gut has been linked to poor mental health in clinical research. Certain strains of probiotics have been shown to improve mood and mental health.
Do probiotics make you happy?
We cant make the claim that probiotics and happiness have a cause-and-effect relationship. The truth is, everyone defines happiness differently so were unlikely to find anything that makes everyone feel happy. But most people do report feeling better physically and mentally after taking a probiotic supplement regularly. And research clearly links a dearth of good gut bacteria with mood disorders, depression, and anxiety.
Do probiotics make you feel tired?
Probiotics generally increase energy levels by reducing inflammation in the gut and improving nutrient absorption. They have also been shown to be helpful for individuals suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. A very small percentage of probiotic users may experience some fatigue upon starting a probiotic. This may be because of a result of the new good bacteria battling the detrimental microorganisms in the gut. If this is the case, it should go away after several weeks.
Pick Your Probiotics Carefully
One problem with probiotics is a lack of consistency. Consumers can’t always be sure of what they’re getting. Probiotics are considered food supplements, not drugs, by the FDA. Therefore, we don’t have a lot of regulation over how they’re made or whether they even contain what they say they contain.
In the United States, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the probiotic strains most commonly used to treat GI issues, but there are many probiotic products on the market that contain different types of bacteria and in different amounts. A lack of regulation means that one batch might be different from another.
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