Research links probiotics with mental health

Believe it or not, having a balanced gut flora (prebiotics and probiotics) could be the key to having a balanced mood, according to a new study published in the journal Psychopharmacology.

This isn’t the first time studies have highlighted the link between a healthy gut and a healthy mind. Previously I told you about another study, which found that as little as two servings of probiotics, found in yoghurt, a day made for both a smooth running system and a much better shot at having a bright outlook on life.

Yoghurt eaters were also more likely to control their stress levels and to banish emotional mood swings. In fact, researchers are calling the link between good gut health and a better mood “undeniable.”

Exposure to today’s toxic mix of creepy chemicals, harsh drugs and processed foods can leave your gut flora in total tatters.

That’s when the beneficial bacteria found in probiotics come to the rescue.

However, probiotics are only half of the story. Your gut also needs “fertilizer” to thrive. And that fertilizer comes in the form of prebiotics — plant fibres that fertilize and nourish good bacteria. In this latest study prebiotics stepped up to the plate and hit a depression-beating home run.

Researchers gave volunteers either a prebiotic supplement or a placebo. After just three weeks, the results showed that the participants in the prebiotic group had a more positive outlook, while the placebo group was not faring that well. And when exposed to threatening or negative triggers, the prebiotic users were less anxious than their placebo popping peers.

How does it work? Researchers believe the vagus nerve plays a role.

This massive nerve — the biggest in your body — links your gut to your brain. When things are going swimmingly in your gut, the vagus nerve can’t wait to let your brain know about it — and your brain reacts by promoting a calm and upbeat mood.

To really benefit from prebiotics you’ll probably need to do what the participants in the study did: take a supplement. While you technically can get prebiotics from food it’s tough because these are mostly found in raw onions and garlic — and that’s probably not going to do your social life any favours.

Wishing you the best of health,

Dr. Jonathan V. Wright
Nutrition & Healing

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Prebiotic intake reduces the waking cortisol response and alters emotional bias in healthy volunteers,

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