Many people turn to chocolate when they’re feeling blue. But a recent study suggests they might be better off reaching for something smaller… much, much smaller.
In the past, I’ve written to you about how probiotics – the friendly bacteria in your gut – can boost your health…
- Probiotics aid digestion
- They support immune system health
- They even enhance your body’s ability to get rid of toxins
New research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, may have just confirmed another benefit of these helpful bacteria.
For several years, scientists have suspected that probiotic bacteria can affect your moods. And a number of studies seem to back this up.
For example, British researchers split 132 people into 2 groups. One group got a daily drink with added probiotics. The 2nd group got an inactive placebo. In the probiotic group, those who felt the worst when the study began felt a lot better within 3 weeks. But the moodiest people in the placebo group didn’t feel any better.1
More recently, a Canadian team gave either probiotics or a placebo to a group of people with anxiety issues for 2 months. The probiotics group wound up calmer and less anxious. Again, the placebo group didn’t improve.2
But no one really understood how bacteria living way down in your gut could make a difference in your mood and attitude. This new study may provide the answer.
Scientists added probiotic bacteria to the diet of a group of mice. Another group of mice got the same diet – but without the probiotics.
The behavior of the probiotic-fed mice changed. They showed less stress. They were less likely to become moody or blue than the other mice. And they had lower levels of corticosterone – a hormone linked to high stress levels.3
Feeding the mice probiotics also changed the number of receptors for GABA – the brain’s top “calming” messenger – in multiple areas of the brain.
These researchers discovered the probiotics stimulated the vagus nerve – one of your body’s major nerves. And these “messages” triggered physical and chemical changes in the mice’s brains.
Changes that calmed anxious feelings, lowered stress and produced more positive moods.
We’ve already seen similar effects in people taking probiotics. So it’s reasonable to think they work the same way in humans, too.
But how do you take advantage of this benefit?
Yogurt is the best-known source probiotics. But most yogurt products are loaded with sugars – and many have chemical additives, too. So I don’t recommend them as a regular source of healthy bacteria.
Plain yogurt with live, active cultures is a pretty good probiotic source. But plain yogurt is too sour for many people. It takes some getting used to.
That’s why I recommend taking a probiotic supplement. A good probiotic supplement delivers far more friendly bacteria than yogurt… without the unpleasant taste.
The best probiotic supplements also contain prebiotics.
Prebiotics are fibers your body can’t digest… but that good bacteria can. In fact, they’re the top food choice for the healthy bacteria living in your gut. Providing their favorite food helps ensure more of these good bacteria will survive – and thrive – in your gut.
Where they just may help you feel calmer, less anxious and more upbeat.
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
Best Life Herbals
1 Benton, D., et al, “Impact of consuming a milk drink containing a probiotic on mood and cognition,” Eur J Clin Nutr. Mar 2007;61(3):355-61.
2 Rao, A.V., et al, “A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of a probiotic in emotional symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome,” Gut Pathog. Mar 19, 2009;1(1):6.
3 Bravo, J., et al, “Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve,” PNAS. August 29, 2011, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1102999108.