The way to your brain may actually be through your gut. Research from McMaster University has found a possible connection between taking probiotics and decreased levels of anxiety and depression.
The study involved 44 adults experiencing mild to moderate anxiety or depression. Over the course of 10 weeks, half were given a probiotic and the other half were given a placebo. The results showed improvement in depression in 64% of the group taking a probiotic and 32% in the group taking a placebo. Through an MRI the researchers were able to verify that there were signs of change in the mood centers of the brain in the patients who showed improvement.
Brain and Belly Connection
Probiotics are commonly called “good” bacteria. They assist with digestion and generally help to keep your gut healthy. The intestines, or gut, have their own nervous system, which generates neurotransmitters. It has many neurotransmitters in common with the ones the brain generates, which has led researchers to speculate that the gut and the brain are in communication with each other. Further reason for this speculation lies in the fact that many sufferers of anxiety and depression also suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or some form of gastrointestinal illness. If they are connected, increasing probiotics in the body through supplements or foods could help reduce mental conditions like anxiety and depression.
Probiotics are naturally produced by the body and help to balance out the “bad” bacteria and replace good bacteria that is lost. In addition to helping with digestion and possibly some mental disorders as mentioned above, probiotics have also been shown to help with various other conditions including eczema, oral health, common cold, and allergies. Many people take a probiotic supplement as part of their daily vitamin routine, probiotics are also found in many fermented foods, such as sauerkraut. Dark chocolate, greek yogurt, fresh green peas, and green olives are some popular probiotic-rich foods.
The benefits of probiotics can start to look pretty appealing, especially if you suffer from anxiety and depression. However, be mindful that you should never start taking a supplement or replacing prescribed medication without talking to your doctor first. There are also different types of probiotics, and your doctor should be involved in helping you figure out which might be best for you.
If you are struggling with anxiety and depression or are wondering about the potential benefits of adding a probiotic to your diet, please contact The Woman’s Clinic today for an appointment.