Probiotic Supplements, Depression, Anxiety and Brain Health
What are probiotics? They are simply microorganisms that can contain health benefits to their host.
How is this done? Probiotic supplements that contain these microorganisms can help improve the microbial balance of the host.
There are trillions of cells in your body and more than that when it comes to bacterial cells, so overall the amount of opportunity for bacteria to grow is overwhelming. Can bacteria be bad?
Yes, can some of it be good? Absolutely!
This is where probiotics come into play. Where are probiotics found? What are their benefits? Should we supplement with probiotics and what can happen if we do? These are some of the questions that will be answered throughout this article.
Probiotic Supplements and the Brain?
Seeing as probiotics are friendly and healthy bacteria found in our GI/digestive tract it is linked to health benefits from helping irritable bowel syndrome and traveler’s diarrhea to boosting your overall immune system. This is used to help combat any GI distress or any forms of bowel problems that can occur, such as diarrhea.
While researching the topic of probiotics on a popular website, PubMed, I read about a study that was conducted on mice in two groups: one a control group and one that utilized forms of probiotics such as yogurt to see how the form of bacteria may play a role. The mice were thrown into a small swimming pools for a 4-6 minute time limit to see how they would react.
The control group had higher stress hormones than those who implemented the yogurt/probiotics. This would help show that the stress hormone would be reduced with those who did utilize probiotics.
But what does this actually show? It showed that the probiotics actually had an effect on the brain that helped them reach a more relaxed overall state of the mind via the distribution of the GABA receptors that helped those mice remain calm; therefore, proving that the mice who were given probiotics were at a much calmer overall state of mind.
What was found? The probiotics that aided the GI tract of those mice also had an effect on a “Vagus” nerve that is held from the abdomen (hence the stomach and GI Tract) to aid in brain and serotonin levels.
A form of bacteria known as “lactobacillus,” which thrives in the gut can reproduce when it is supplemented in extensive amounts. The serotonin levels that are reduced to aid in calming effects is “GABA,” which is very popular in sleep aids and ZMA Products such as Cellucor ZMA.
Probiotics and Anxiety, Stress, and Depression
Let’s discuss another study, this one from France that was conducted on humans and water sports. These individuals were divided into two groups who took two different probiotics: lactobacillus and bifidobacillus.
This study was also something posted on PubMed that caught my eye after doing a short search on “probiotics.” The results were very similar to the previous mice study showing that after a 2-4 week use of probiotics that those individuals over a 24 hour period were: less stressed, less depressed, less anxious, and had a calmer state of mind during the course of the day, which aided in a deeper sleep.
The amount of cortisol levels were also decreased as the day did progress from when waking to the end of the day. Typically the cortisol level of a stressed person will increase throughout the day.
Both studies showed that probiotics can have an effect on serotonin levels, which also aids and reflects the calming mood. Believe it or not, serotonin is mostly associated with those in the brain, but let’s also realize that nearly 3/4th of the supply is also stored in your gut!
Do You Need a Probiotic Supplement?
Now that some research has backed what we are looking to prove, what does it also offer for the usual individuals that want to supplement with a probiotic. The bacteria or supplementation of probiotics can also help break down excessive carbohydrates and also retain nitrogen from breaking down protein that is utilized in the body of those who intake higher protein diets.
The pathogens or the bacteria that are utilized help aid metabolism, nutrients, and digestive system when added into your diet or foods higher in bacteria, such as yogurts for instance and veggies. These show increases in vitamin B and Vitamin K, which can help the immune system.
Some interesting facts that may also shock you show that probiotics can have a support on fat levels and also breaking down weight loss and bacteria in the gut to help remove subsequent shifts of calories being ingested, specifically carbohydrates.
Some foods that Americans can eat to help increase the overall probiotic levels in our bodies are yogurt, sauerkraut, and probiotics called Kombucha, which can be found in tea, kimchi, and soybeans.