By Lisa Breitenwischer CHC
Probiotics work in your gastrointestinal tract to help balance out the harmful microbes living there. Evidence now suggests, that a certain type of probiotics known as psychobiotics may also help improve your mood.
It’s hard to believe that by altering the bacteria in your gut, you can better handle stress, improve your mood, and even treat your anxiety or depression. But an explosion of research into the fascinating world of the gut-brain axis or GBA, is showing just that.
One key breakthrough is the idea that intestinal bacteria can impact the so-called gut-brain axis or the biological communication that occurs between the brain and the gastrointestinal tract via nerves, hormones, and other pathways. In fact, microbiota are now seen so central to this axis that researchers recently coined the term “microbiome–gut–brain axis”. One of the most compelling pieces of evidence for the existence of this axis is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – a common gut disorder which can cause both digestive and mental symptoms. Moreover, clinical trials demonstrate that boosting levels of probiotic bacteria in IBS patients can improve anxiety, providing solid proof that such psychobiotics are able to influence mental health via the axis.
But how do they work?
Researchers believe that psychobiotic bacteria work via three main mechanisms: producing neurotransmitters, regulating the body’s stress response, and influencing the body’s response to inflammation.
Psychobiotics produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin, acetylcholine, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and others, to help you think more clearly, feel less anxious, and enjoy a more positive outlook. These neurotransmitters trigger cells in the lining of your gut to release molecules. These molecules then send signals to your brain that control behavior.
Research also indicates that psychobiotics affect your adrenal glands, which control how your body responds to stress. Continual stress disrupts the timing of cortisol production. Scientists believe this leads to not only cognition problems but mood disorders as well.
The third potential mechanism of psychobiotic bacteria is modulation the body’s response to inflammation. In particular, recent research suggests that production of inflammatory molecules known as cytokines may be associated with depression, anxiety, and stress. In turn, there is evidence that gut bacteria are capable of reducing this inflammation or altering how the body responds to it.
Psychobiotics Research Evidence
Although the vast majority of research is currently limited to rodents, psychobiotics is quickly growing to become one of the most popular areas of clinical research. With more and more human trials being undertaken every year, the possibility of being able to take psychobiotic pills to cure a bout of depression or even boost mental performance may soon become a reality. It’s anticipated to prove to be a revolutionary concept for the next frontier of translational medicine in the coming future.
Taking such psychobiotics is an effective way to boost the levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut, potentially improving stress, depression, anxiety, mood, and perhaps even overall cognitive function.
There are a variety of foods that have psychobiotic bacteria that you could start adding to your diet today. Foods such as: bananas, almonds & walnuts, yogurt, lentils, salmon, leafy greens, broccoli, eggs, beans, whole grains & even dark chocolate!
There are also two brands of psychobiotic probiotics that I am familiar with: “MOOD+” from Garden of Life and another from SOLACE.
If you are feeling stressed or anxious-maybe you have gut issues? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 214.749.4744 today, to set up a health consultation to begin healing your gut and improving your mood!