The Gut That Rules the Brain

Most of us have heard that probiotics, the good bacteria in our gut, may help with digestive health. But could probiotics also play a role in regulating our moods and emotions? According to a recent article published online in The Atlantic, the answer might be “yes.” Research has shown that mice raised in sterile, bacteria-free environments demonstrate autism-like behaviors; their brain chemistry, including their serotonin system, is literally different. When these mice receive probiotics, they experience reductions in these behaviors. There is also evidence that probiotics could have positive, brain-altering effects in humans as well—a study from 2011 found that probiotics reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety, and distress. However, before you reach for some yogurt with the hope that it will balance your mood, it’s important to keep in mind that this research is in its earliest stages. Scientists still need to figure out which probiotics, and in what quantities, can impact our psychology for the better. In the meantime, you can still look to probiotics to help you maintain a healthy gut and keep you feeling your best. The following are two commonly used probiotic strains:

  • Bifidobacterium lactis restores gut microflora for a balanced, heathy gut; 1 to 3 billion live organisms per day is the generally recommended dosage.
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus is often used to strengthen the immune system and fight yeast infections; 1 billion live organisms per day is the generally recommended dosage.

Source: The Atlantic

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