Why Your Mental Health Might Benefit from Probiotic supplements
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. They are often called “good” or “friendly” bacteria because they help keep your gut healthy. But did you know that probiotics may also benefit your mental health?
What are Probiotics?
As mentioned earlier, probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health. They are naturally found in your body, but you can also get them from certain foods or supplements. Probiotics can help balance the bacteria in your gut and improve your overall health.
There are many different strains of probiotics, but some of the most common ones are:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- Bifidobacterium bifidum
- Streptococcus thermophilus
- Saccharomyces boulardii
How Probiotics can Benefit Your Mental Health
Research has shown that the gut microbiome (the community of microorganisms in your gut) can affect your mental health. The gut-brain axis is the connection between the gut and the brain, and it plays a crucial role in regulating your mood, emotions, and cognition.
Probiotics may benefit your mental health by:
- Reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Improving cognitive function
- Enhancing mood
- Reducing stress
Reducing Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression
Several studies have shown that probiotics can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in both healthy people and those with clinical depression or anxiety disorders. For example, a study published in the journal Psychiatry Research found that taking a probiotic supplement for four weeks reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Improving Cognitive Function
Your gut and brain are connected through the vagus nerve, which means that what happens in your gut can affect your brain function. Studies have found that taking probiotics can improve cognitive function in several ways:
- Improving memory and learning
- Reducing cognitive decline in older adults
- Improving executive function
Probiotics may be able to enhance your mood by increasing the production of feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. One study found that taking a probiotic supplement for four weeks improved mood in healthy volunteers.
Stress can disrupt the balance of bacteria in your gut and lead to inflammation and other negative effects. Studies have shown that taking probiotics can help reduce stress and promote relaxation. For example, a study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity found that taking a probiotic supplement for four weeks reduced cortisol levels (a hormone associated with stress) in healthy volunteers.
Getting Probiotics into Your Diet
You can get probiotics into your diet by eating fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi. However, it can be difficult to get enough probiotics from food alone, which is why many people choose to take probiotic supplements.
When choosing a probiotic supplement, look for one that contains a variety of strains and has a high CFU (colony-forming unit) count. The CFU count indicates how many viable bacteria are in the supplement.
It’s also important to talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement, especially if you have a medical condition or are taking medications.
Probiotic supplements may benefit your mental health by reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, improving cognitive function, enhancing mood, and reducing stress. While more research is needed to fully understand the connection between the gut and the brain, it’s clear that taking care