By Emily Turk
Probiotics have long been known as one of the best food for digestion. But a new study shows that probiotics help in so many other ways, not just by improving digestion. Studies show that there is a link between gut bacteria and the human brain, which is how probiotics help with mood swings, depression, and anxiety. Now, most of these studies have been done on animals.
However, there is new research, done by the Oxford University that shows a deeper connection between mental health and gut bacteria. The study, conducted by Dr. Phillip Burnet and his team, found out that supplements that boost good bacteria in the gut can have an anti-anxiety effect. The team experimented with prebiotics, which are basically carbs that act as a nourishment for the strains of good bacteria, or probiotics. There is a link between prebiotics and probiotics.
Dr. Burnet said that “prebiotics are food for good bacteria already present in the gut. Taking prebiotics therefore increases the number of all species of good bacteria in the gut, which will theoretically have greater beneficial effects than a single species.
What was the study?
Dr. Phillip Burnet and his team asked 45 healthy adults to take either a prebiotic or a placebo. All of the adults in the study were between age 18 and 45. They took a prebiotic or a placebo each day for three weeks. After the trial period, researchers did tests to assess the results of the study. Their goal was to check for link between emotional information and gut bacteria, specifically how the participants “processed emotional information”.
According to the results, participants taking prebiotics paid less attention to negative information. In addition, they paid more attention to positive information when compared to the placebo group. The result shows that consuming prebiotics results in less anxiety when confronted with negative stimuli. Even more important, the results show that the effect is similar to the effect of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication.
Another thing that Dr. Burnet found is that people taking prebiotics have lower lever of cortisol in their saliva. This is a stress hormone previously linked with depression and anxiety.
How to promote healthy gut bacteria?
The result of the findings suggests that you should increase the consumption of prebiotics and probiotics.
That means that for prebiotic power foods, you should consume more almonds, asparagus, bananas, garlic, leafy greens, kiwi, legumes, mushrooms, oats, and onions. Probiotic foods include kimchi, carrots, green beans, beets, miso, natto, tempeh, chickpea, kefir, yogurt, and kombucha.
Other benefits of consuming probiotics
In addition to improving your gut health and helping with anxiety, probiotics bring a whole other set of benefits to the table.
For example, consuming probiotics reduces the blood pressure of people with high blood pressure. These foods also help keep your teeth intact by killing bacteria that causes tooth decay. Simply put, you will have a great smile just by consuming probiotics. They also help with skin problems like eczema. A study found out that allergy-prone mothers with eczema can reduce the risk of babies developing the skin issue. Women should consume probiotics for other reasons as well. They help with bacteria like yeast infection, urinary tract infection, and bacterial vaginosis.