We at The Optimist Daily write a lot about the numerous health benefits of probiotics. While these healthy bacteria are immensely beneficial for your microbiome and gut health, it turns out they can be good for your brain and even improve your mental health too!
Probiotics are “life-promoting” organisms that work primarily in the gut to reduce harmful conditions including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), eczema, dermatitis, high cholesterol levels, and liver disease. Most probiotics belong to one of two bacteria groups: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria.
So where does the brain come in? The intestines and the brain are connected through the central nervous system which helps facilitate communication between the two, but the systems also communicate through gut microbes which are aided by probiotic function. These gut microbes produce molecules that signal messages to the brain. The entire microbiome made up of bacteria, yeasts, and fungi also work to influence the brain by controlling inflammation and hormone production.
Many researchers have studied the connection between mental health and gut health. Probiotics that benefit mental health have been called psychobiotics and, although there are no concrete conclusions about their effects, they have been shown to reduce anxiety and depression symptoms.
The human body has over 40 trillion bacteria. These bacteria have been proven to reduce diseased gut, otherwise known as “gut dysbiosis,” which is found in people with obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. In addition to promoting physical health, bacteria-boosting probiotics could also promote brain health by improving the body’s communication signals, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing hormone levels. All the more reason to incorporate probiotics like yogurt and fermented foods into your diet!