Probiotics and Mental Health
Probiotics are best known for their digestive health benefits. They support the body from the mouth to your gut. At the right doses, they aid digestion and absorption of nutrients. These good bacteria in your gut are also key players in your mood and mental health, because they help relieve the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress.
The trillions of beneficial microbes in your gut and your brain are connected through a certain nerve. This nerve allows you to breathe, digest and swallow foods automatically. Your colon also gets messages from the brain through this nerve. The connection between the two, known as the gut-brain axis, plays an important role in mental and physical well-being, including brain-related illnesses and IBS. This clarifies why stress affects the digestive system and why digestive issues can make you unhappy.
The probiotics in your gut break down dietary fiber into short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). The nerve detects this, which then sends information to the brain to regulate the digestion process. Because of stress, this function can be impaired and your gut cannot react to inflammation.
Dysbiosis and depression
Dysbiosis happens when there is imbalanced in the gut microbiome. Harmful bacteria can take over, resulting in inflammation. Inflammation happens when your immune system reacts. Interestingly, inflammation can contribute to depression, and depression can cause inflammation.
One way to control inflammation and manage depression is to replenish the lost bacteria in the gut with probiotics supplements. Another way is to increase their abundance by consuming prebiotics, dietary fibers that feed the probiotics in your gut.
Probiotics provide many health benefits, including for the brain. They live naturally inside you, but they are also found in fermented foods and supplements. Taking probiotic supplements helps keep the gut healthy and prevents imbalances. Lactobacillus species have been shown to improve stress resilience and anxiety. Research even suggests that taking probiotics may help ease symptoms of depression.
To reap all the benefits of a probiotic supplement, your body needs prebiotics. The gut bacteria need to eat, and they thrive on dietary fibers from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Prebiotic fibers and starch from these foods nourish the good bacteria, which in turn produce good things like short-chain fatty acids and vitamins.
Gut bacteria and serotonin hormone
You are probably aware that short-chain fatty acids are created by gut bacteria. This SCFA interacts with cells that produce serotonin, a type of hormone that affects your mood, happiness, and level of anxiety. This means more probiotics, more serotonin hormones. Probiotics can also produce another hormone, Gamma-Aminobutyric (GABA) which helps calm the nervous system and reduces stress reactions.
Having a good diet can help your bacteria in protecting your mental well-being. When you have a variety of healthy bacteria, your microbiome is more diverse and will produce happy hormones like GABA and serotonin to increase your mood.