When it comes to mental health, we automatically think of our brain as the only organ in charge. But science has proven there’s another part of the body responsible for its function. Researchers from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) discovered that brain function changed in women who consumed yogurt and other products with probiotics. Aside from this, there have been studies linking the brain and the gut, such as those that indicate problems in the gut can impact mental health. This is why those who have digestive system issues often develop depression and anxiety.
Probiotics Can Alter How Your Brain Works
The researchers at UCLA found out that beneficial bacterial or probiotics can actually modify the brain function of the participants of the study, consulting of 36 healthy women aged 18 to 55. These women were divided into three groups:
- One group ate yogurt with many probiotics twice a day for 30 days. The yogurt was thought to impact intestinal health.
- One group ate something that tasted like yogurt, but does not have probiotics.
- One control group had their normal routine without adding probiotics to their diet.
After the investigation, the researchers had the following conclusions:
- The women who ate yogurt with beneficial bacteria experienced a decrease in activity in two regions of the brain.
- One of the regions was insular cortex, which is linked to emotion, including motor control, perception, self-awareness, and cognitive functioning. This region also regulates your homeostasis.
- Somatosensory cortex, the other part of the brain, plays a role in the ability of the body to interpret different sensations.
- The resting brain scan showed that the people who consumed probiotic yogurt had greater connectivity with a region in the brain called the periaqueductal grey as well as the prefrontal cortex, which is linked with cognition.
The improvement in the brain just because the women consumed probiotics is quite remarkable. It simply shows that mood and mental health can be affected by our diet. It is proven that the brain can give signals to the stomach, which is why even medical professionals and scientists agree that stress is often due to gastrointestinal issues.
Probiotics and Their Benefits
Probiotics are not known as the beneficial bacteria for nothing. The British Journal of Sports Medicine published a study that showed how professional runners who drank products, such as Yakult that has probiotic Lactobacillus, had only mild spells of respiratory illness than runners who only took a placebo.
This discovery can mean a lot to those who may face depression, autism, ADHD, and even serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia. The connection between gut and brain can help avoid neurological diseases and the treatment or prevention can be as simple as ensuring balance of the bacteria in the gut.