Can a probiotic really push back on your anxiety and depression?
The answer to this question may make you smile.
For generations, we have known that certain foods make us more functional and clear-headed. Now, the connection between our gut and our brain is becoming more clear as new research connects the dots.
Food & mood: a review of supplementary prebiotic and probiotic interventions in the treatment of anxiety and depression in adults looked at seven studies to see why we feel that way. The researchers at Brighton and Sussex Medical School and the University of Brighton in the United Kingdom discovered that a two-way relationship between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract benefits from probiotics and the prebiotics that help them flourish.
And they identified a possible connection to mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety.
Why does your gut impact your mental health?
Our bodies are complex, interrelated systems that work together to help us think and function every day. Sometimes, we underestimate how closely everything is tied together.
Here are four things you need to know about your gut, courtesy of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health:
- The gut microbiota that lives in your intestine is unique to you. It is made up of tens of trillions of microorganisms that we acquire mostly as infants when we pass through the birth canal during delivery – unless we are born by Cesarean section or erode it with antibiotic use.
- The expressions “gut-wrenching” moments or “following your gut” reflect a true relationship between your brain and your innards. This is based on a 2011 experiment on mice who turned out to be more relaxed after taking a certain probiotic.
- Your gut microbiota may be influenced by a probiotic bacteria, called Lactobacillus rhamnosus. It contains the neurotransmitter GABA that helps regulate brain activity and calm your anxiety, affecting your behavior and emotions.
- Your diet can be considered a treatment to reduce stress-related and neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism and hyperactivity, by altering the bacteria in your gut.
Photo courtesy of CDC via Unsplash.com
Your gut has a diverse population of microbes, with at least 400 species of bacteria, outnumbering the bacteria in the cells in the rest of your body. These microbes work hard to digest food, ward off germs, and process vitamins in your meals.
What role do probiotics play?
Probiotics are live bacteria found in food or supplements that can treat or prevent:
- Diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome
- ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
- vaginal and urinary tract infections
- recurrence of bladder cancer
- infection of the digestive tract by C. difficile
- eczema in children
Together with prebiotics, they support the body in cultivating a healthy colony of bacteria and other microorganisms in the gut to aid in digestion and overall health. Prebiotics are carbohydrates and fiber that feed the gut’s beneficial bacteria so they can thrive.
The British researchers found that by working together, probiotics and prebiotics may be a potentially valuable collateral treatment to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Patients with gut-related conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), can benefit even more.
Photo courtesy of Julia Koblitz via Unsplash.com
They suggested that further research into this topic could be applied to a larger test population to see further trends and enlighten medical professionals even further. That includes testing prebiotics and probiotics separately to see the true impact of each factor.
The worldwide impact of this finding
With trauma and other mental health disorders rising in recent years, any way to expand treatment options beyond healthcare providers is welcome news.
Depression plagues more than 300 million people, making it one of the most common health disorders. It is estimated that up to 90 percent of those with an anxiety disorder experience depression, while 85 percent of those with a serious depressive disorder are coping with an anxiety disorder.
In the United States, an estimated 17.3 million people have reported at least one major episode of depression. That’s a shocking 7.1 percent of all American adults. More women than men report having depression, particularly those between 18 and 25 years old.
Meanwhile, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that almost 20 percent of American adults had an anxiety disorder during the global pandemic, once again with higher rates in women than men.
Finding the right probiotic
Pharmacy shelves are full of a range of probiotics, so it’s hard to choose which one will have the most impact on your vital gut-brain connection. To be truly effective, a probiotic MUST:
- Be strong enough to endure your 98.6-degree body heat
- Be resilient enough to survive your harsh stomach acid
- Be unyielding enough to pass through your entire digestive tract
JustThrive Probiotic is the only spore-based probiotic I’ve found to aid digestion and deal with a leaky gut. There’s only ONE probiotic that has been scientifically verified to arrive 100 percent alive in your gut, and its effectiveness has been conclusively proven.
If you want to tackle your mental health from the inside up, creating the best environment for your gut microbiota is the first step.