While probiotics are well-known for helping with digestion, a new review published in the British Medical Journal shows their ability to improve symptoms of depression as well.
After examining seven studies over the course of 15 years, researchers found the greatest improvements in symptoms occurred when probiotics were combined with prebiotics. All studies focused on the impact of probiotics and prebiotics on depression, mood and mental health.
While we hear these terms a lot, many people aren’t sure of the difference between probiotics and prebiotics, so before we continue, here’s a quick review.
According to the Mayo Clinic, probiotics are live microorganisms found in certain foods that maintain the ‘good’ bacteria known as microflora in the gut. Prebiotics “act as food for this microflora” and help improve the balance of these microorganisms. Both can be taken in supplement form.
The Food-Mood Connection Is Real! Here Are 5 Foods That Help with Anxiety and Naturally Ease Stress
Probiotics and Depression: How Probiotics Influence the Way We Feel
Ever feel nauseous before public speaking? Or experience stomach pain when you’re stressed?
This review highlights the link between gut health and brain health, exploring how the brain and gut microbiome send messages to one another.
Researchers noted that participants who experienced the greatest improvement in symptoms had underlying gut issues. This implies that their microbiomes were out of balance, which led to feeling depressed. After taking probiotics, their good gut bacteria increased, and as a result, this boosted their mood.
As an added bonus, probiotics boost the immune system, helping you break down food, absorb nutrients, increase your energy and can contribute to healthy weight loss.
Many previous studies have looked at the connection between gut health and mental health. Specifically, researchers have discovered that psychological factors – stress, anxiety, depression and more – affect the movement of the GI tract.
In fact, “many people with functional GI disorders perceive pain more acutely than other people do because their brains are more responsive to pain signals from the GI tract,” Harvard Health reports. “Stress can make the existing pain seem even worse.”
Here’s an example of how the connection goes both ways: simply thinking about eating can trigger the release of liquids in the stomach. And on the flipside, a damaged intestine can send signals to the brain, which is translated as depression or anxiety.
Hence, gastrointestinal distress can be the cause or the result of emotional distress.
Try Probiotics and Prebiotics to Boost Your Mood Naturally!
The bottom line: your gut health plays a major role in your overall health. And science confirms it. Taking probiotic and prebiotic supplements and eating foods high in probiotics can help you keep depression at bay.
Great sources of probiotics include yogurt, kefir, tempeh, kimchi and kombucha.
By becoming aware of the food you eat and how it makes you feel, you can start taking back control of your health. When it comes to probiotics and depression, science shows there is a promising connection!
This article originally appeared on YogiApproved.