Scientists have recently discovered that the bacteria in our gut somehow communicates with the brain, resulting in a potential cause and/or treatment of certain mental health issues; including using probiotics for treatment of anxiety. Scientists also discovered that our body contains over 100 trillion bacteria in just the digestive system alone. This discovery means that nearly 90% of the cells in our body are in the form of bacteria, many of these bacteria have a significant on your overall health.
A recent study from UCLA’s school of medicine demonstrated that supplementing with probiotics have a positive effect on people’s emotional and mental health. Specifically, the study found that after supplementing their diet with the probiotics Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Bifidobacterium animalis, Lactococcus lactis, and Streptococcus thermophilus for four weeks, subjects demonstrated improved processing activity in the area of the brain responsible for controlling emotion, sensation and anxiety.
This study also revealed a clear connection between the enteric nervous system, located around the digestive system, and the central nervous system; this finding opens new possibilities to the connection between how probiotics may be effective in treating anxiety. New theories on the connection between bacteria and brain health hypothesize that harmful bacteria may actually seep toxins directly into the bloodstream, where it is transported directly to the brain.
Probiotics and GABA
Further study has demonstrated that supplementing with the Lactobacillus strain of probiotics supports the production of the neurotransmitters GABA. GABA is the primary neurotransmitter responsible for controlling behavior and mood, influencing everything from restful sleep patterns, digestive issues, and anxiety levels. Probiotics are thought to increase production of GABA, resulting in a general reduction in anxiety.
Supplementing with probiotics may even reduce the production of stress hormones in the body, thus further reducing risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, digestive issues, depression and anxiety.
Probiotics and Probiotic Sources
Probiotics are the friendly, helpful bacteria in our bodies; probiotics are also found in yogurt, kefir and probiotic supplements. While there are several strains of probiotics, most come in the form of bacteria and yeast. In addition to treating anxiety, supplementing with probiotics has demonstrated tremendous health benefits, including improved digestive and immune system health, reduced duration and intensity of yeast and urinary tract infections, and improved skin conditions.
Doctors recommend maintaining a 9:1 ratio of good to bad bacteria; meaning that 85% of the bacteria in your digestive system should be probiotics. The typical, healthy digestive system can be supported with daily supplements of probiotics ranging between 10 and 250 colony forming units per serving; this is enough to support overall health, including reducing anxiety levels.