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Probiotics Are Good For Your Brain

How Probiotics Can Reduce Stress, Anxiety, and Pain

March 14, 2013

By , Clinical Nutrition Writer

At some point, you've probably heard the parable of "The Belly and the Members". In this story, the rest of the parts of the body start grumbling because the gut gets all the food, yet they do all the work. In order to get back at the belly, they refuse to feed it, yet when they themselves start getting weaker from lack of sustenance they realize the error of their ways.

We all know that the gut is important for digestion, but only recently are we beginning to discover exactly how important it is. The gut doesn't just turn food into energy for us, it regulates crucial aspects of our immune system and now we're also starting to discover that it can literally affect our mood, stress levels, and experience of pain.

A study just released demonstrates that in humans, probiotics affect the regions of the brain in charge of emotion and sensation.1

We've known for years that in rats with "bad guts" (guts devoid of bacteria or with bad gut flora), stress and anxiety are higher. We also know that when we feed rats "good" bacteria, like probiotics, that their stress and anxiety go down. However, the situations tested in rats are not usually found in humans. Nobody has a gut with absolutely no bacteria, and no matter how bad someone is, their gut is usually not only populated with bad bacteria.

This recent study demonstrates that our gut flora actually do make a difference, and that having good bacteria leads to a better stress response, lower anxiety, and potentially less pain.

So what does this mean for you? It means your gut is one of the most important areas to take care of, not only for digestion but for mental health as well. Taking probiotics on a daily basis will help...

    Reduce your stress (lower cortisol) Reduce inflammation Improve immune function Improve digestion

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1. Tillisch K, Labus J, Kilpatrick L, et al. Consumption of Fermented Milk Product with Probiotic Modulates Brain Activity. Gastroenterology. Published online ahead of print, March 2013. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2013.02.043.

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