How bacteria can help to boost your mental health
What if your thoughts and feelings weren’t controlled by your brain but by a biomass of bacteria living in your intestines? Evidence suggests that microbes in the gut are linked to the working health of your brain, and psychobiotics is at the heart of this. It is hoped that this new theory can be used to modify gut bacteria to alleviate a multitude of mental health concerns. We discovered more about this exciting new concept.
Nutritional therapist Natalie Lamb explains further: “Psychobiotics are living microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, bring a beneficial psychological effect on the host such as improving mood in depression, reducing anxiety and alleviating stress. The gut-brain axis has received lots of attention in recent years and a huge wealth of research continues to deliver very exciting and promising results.
“Evidence shows there may be bacterial strains or probiotic products with clinical benefit in treating psychological problems such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, autism, and even dementia. It is the same balance and diversity of gut microbes that affects both our brain function and the health of many other areas of our digestive and immune systems. “This can be influenced by the food we eat, lifestyle factors and medications. Regular consumption of processed food, high refined sugar content and low fibre can have a negative impact on our gut microbial balance. Eating plenty of seasonal vegetables and live fermented foods, or taking a live bacteria probiotic supplement such as Bio-Kult Advanced Multi-Strain Formula (£9.25 for 30 capsules, biokult.co.uk), are natural ways to help keep the gut flora nice and balanced.
“The fact that the bacteria we harbour in our gut may influence our brain function, and our happiness, is a very exciting discovery. Ever wondered what they truly meant by the saying ‘our gut is our second brain’? There appears to be a clear association between changes in the gut microbiota and cognitive behaviour, including learning and memory.
“Stress in particular has long been shown to reduce the good guys in our gut, and having a good gut microflora balance has been shown to improve our resilience to stress. Interestingly, in one study looking at our response to stress, memory dysfunction was seen to occur in those infected with a pathogen but not in those without.
“More recently a multi-strain probiotic was shown to lower levels of activity in the areas of the brain associated with emotion and pain, together with increased activity in areas associated with decision making. This is certainly an exciting area of research that we are sure to hear much more about in the future.”
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