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Probiotics for Mental Health

Probiotics are good bacteria that live in your gut. In the past decade, probiotics have become well-known for their vital role in maintaining healthy gut flora, and probiotic-containing foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, and miso have become renowned for their health benefits. On the other hand, recent studies show that the benefits of probiotics extend well beyond digestion and that probiotics can also have a positive impact on mental health. It may also be a valuable addition to the toolbox for psychiatrists and psychotherapists practicing holistic care.  

 

Probiotics and the Gut-Brain Axis

Probiotics work to optimize the gut flora in your body, which collaborates with your nervous system and brain in a complex system known as the gut-brain axis. Researchers published an analysis of scientific studies which confirmed that through the gut-brain axis, probiotics can improve brain function, balance hormones, boost the immune system, and reduce inflammation. All of which can have positive effects on mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. 

 

How Does Probiotics Work That Improves Mental Health?

  1. Improve Brain Function

The gut-brain axis is a two-way interaction. The brain can affect the gut, and the gut can affect the brain. The body uses immune pathways, neural pathways, and metabolic pathways to send signals back and forth along with this complex network. It may seem obvious that unhealthy gut flora can lead to physiological problems but because of the gut-brain axis, unhealthy gut flora can also have a negative impact on brain function, cognition as well as behavior. Probiotics help the gut flora to remain in balance, which encourages healthy brain function and has a positive effect on mental health.

  1. Balance Hormones

The gut-brain axis communicates through the endocrine system, which conceals hormones in our bloodstream. Hormones have an enormous influence on nearly every aspect of human function which may have a direct or indirect impact on mental health. Various nutrients, toxins, and antigens present in our gut can activate the release of hormones that affect physical and mental health. By balancing the gut flora, the consumption of probiotics can promote mental health and lessen stress.

  1. Boost Your Immune System

Pathogens that cause disease activate the body’s immune system and increase inflammation levels, which in turn can increase depressive symptoms. Our gut has the majority of immune cells in our bodies. Healthy gut flora boosts our immune system function by destroying the growth of bad bacteria and decreasing the risk of infection with pathogens we ingest with food. The improvement of immune function and lessening of inflammation in the gut can contribute to improvement in mental health.

  1. Reduce Inflammation

Probiotics can contribute to reduced inflammation in the gut, and inflammation has been associated with certain mental disorders. An out-of-balance gut is linked with higher levels of inflammatory molecules in the blood. Studies show that probiotics can alter the microbial composition of the gut to decrease the production of the inflammatory molecule, benefit gut-brain signaling, and improve the integrity of the gut wall all of which result in lower inflammation and thus benefit our brain and mental health. 

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