Let's take a look at some of the fascinating new research that's been done on the connection between gut health, stress, and mood. In this blog, we will discuss the friendly microbes that live in your gut, as well as the foods and supplements that contain probiotics.
There are trillions of bacteria living in our digestive tract. In addition to aiding in digestion, producing vitamins, and protecting us against not-so-friendly microorganisms, these beneficial microbes offer mood-enhancing and stress-relieving properties.
It is a beehive of study at the moment, and every day we learn more about their great health and mood/stress advantages, despite the fact that researchers are only beginning to understand the various gut microbe-brain links.
The microorganisms that reside in our gastrointestinal tracts are collectively referred to as our "gut microbiota." We refer to the microorganisms that we are able to consume as "probiotics."
The term "probiotics" refers to living organisms that may be consumed via food or drink or taken as a dietary supplement. They ferment milk into yogurt and cabbage into sauerkraut, and they are beneficial to both the physical and emotional health of the stomach and the body as a whole. The term "psychobiotics" refers to a subset of probiotics that may improve mental health (the word "psycho" means "mental health," and "biotics" means "living"). They are living entities that have the potential to improve our mental state.
Yogurt, sauerkraut (and other fermented vegetables), miso, tempeh, and kimchi are some examples of foods that contain probiotics. Both kefir and kombucha are great vehicles for consuming them.
Make sure to choose ones that have not been pasteurized and may be found in the refrigerator at your neighborhood grocery store. If you are pregnant or have an immune system that is impaired, it is not recommended that you consume unpasteurized foods; thus, you should consult with your healthcare professional before doing so.
Of course, you may also get your hands on a variety of other probiotic pills. Consult with your healthcare expert to determine which option is most suitable for you.
In addition, before you take any kind of supplement, make sure you read the label. The varieties of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus that have received the greatest attention from researchers are probiotics. However, not nearly enough is known about the effects of psychobiotics for us to provide precise advice on how to improve mood just yet.
Your body is interrelated in many ways, despite the fact that this may not seem to be clear or intuitive, and more study is focused on what is known as the "microbiota-gut-brain axis." The relationship between your intestines, the microorganisms in them, and your brain are a pretty intricate one. This new discipline has been labeled a “paradigm shift in neuroscience” (Dinan, 2017).
In fact, there are a variety of ways that we’re starting to grasp how our gut microorganisms might alter our brains. One is through the “vagus” nerve, which is a nerve that directly links your stomach to your brain. The second route is via what is known as "biochemical messengers." Biochemicals that are produced in your gut that then move throughout the body to connect with other organs, including your brain, are called gut microbes. Some examples of biochemicals are short-chain fatty acids, cytokines, and even tryptophan (the amino acid that the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin are made from).
The fact that this may assist us not just with mood and stress is amazing, but what's even more intriguing is the possibility that the microbiota-gut-brain axis may one day prove to be useful for other disorders like autism and Parkinson's disease.
Multiple studies have shown that stressed rats not only have elevated levels of stress hormones and stressful behaviors, but they also have distinct gut bacteria. This topic has also been investigated, although to a far lesser degree, in individuals. According to the findings of one research, mothers who experienced high amounts of stress hormones during pregnancy gave birth to babies who had a greater number of "bad" gut microorganisms.
However, is it possible for it to function in the other direction? Is it possible that altering the bacteria in our gut may impact how we respond to stress?
Researchers found that animals who were raised in an environment that did not have any gut microorganisms (a so-called "bacteria-free" environment) responded more strongly to stress than mice that had normal gut microbes. Then, when they are either given a probiotic or gut microorganisms from other mice that were not stressed, their reactions to stress often return to normal.
"Behavior and brain neurochemistry are both affected when gut bacteria and probiotics are present." (Ait-Belgnaoui, et. al., 2012) That's a fairly strong statement to make there.
The administration of probiotics has been shown in several studies to have a good impact on the behavior of animals. For instance, after receiving a probiotic, stressed rats exhibited decreased levels of both stress hormones and an inflammatory molecule related to sadness ("LPS" - lipopolysaccharide). This molecule was known to be connected with depression. Studies on humans have shown that after a few weeks of ingesting probiotic meals or supplements, healthy persons had lower levels of stress hormones as well as sensations of tension, negative thoughts, and melancholy moods.
One surprising research found that persons who took probiotics had lower brain activity for negative and violent thoughts when they underwent brain MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) examinations!
There have been some really interesting studies done recently on the beneficial influence that probiotics may have on one's mood as well as stress levels. So, what can you do to encourage the growth of good microorganisms in your gut?
In the last section, we discussed the advantages of eating foods that are high in probiotics. Once the bacteria in our gut have established themselves there, it is our responsibility to provide food for them.
PREbiotics are food for the microorganisms that live in the gut, and when they ferment in the gut, they cause certain changes in the composition or activity of the bacteria that live there. They are the most delicious morsels that your beneficial gut microorganisms can feast on, which ensures that their population will increase without difficulty. Simply said, prebiotics is meals that are high in fiber content.
Foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Even really dark chocolate, ideally with a cocoa content of at least 70%. Jicama, asparagus, avocado, and whole grains, as well as allium vegetables like onions, garlic, leeks, and shallots, are examples of foods that are especially rich in the prebiotic compound called inulin.
It has been established that administering prebiotics to animals may lower the levels of stress hormones and anxiety-related behaviors. Studies on individuals demonstrate that ingesting psychobiotics in addition to prebiotics may boost both the microorganisms that live in our gut as well as our mood.
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