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A healthy diet is a first and foremost step for physical well-being. Research and studies that have been conducted have revealed that improving the consumption of probiotics can actually enhance gastrointestinal health and the mood of a person. The best probiotics for mental health can reduce depression, stress, and anxiety in some cases.
However, mental health can also be dealt with by exercising. For instance, Crossfit or weight training. There are numerous benefits of Crossfit and weight training that are lucrative for mental health and other health-related concerns.
Probiotics have become increasingly popular for the treatment of mental health issues. The enteric nervous system (ENS) is located in our gut which is one of the reasons why improved gut health can lead to better mental health. Arguably, the health of our gut influences the health of our brain.
How do Probiotics Work?
While research is still being conducted, experts believe that there might be a strong link between the gastrointestinal tract and the brain. This connection is called the gut-brain axis (GBA) and it connects the central nervous system to the gastrointestinal tract.
The gut contains microorganisms that are important to the gut-brain axis as they produce neurotransmitters that can affect the overall mood, sleep schedule, and appetite. The gut bacteria can also reduce the inflammation in the body and cognitive functionality.
Research is still being conducted in this regard but a study in 2017 revealed that the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 reduced symptoms of depression in people who suffered from irritable bowel syndrome.
However, experts believe that probiotics might be most effective when used together with other treatments such as medication and psychotherapy
Which Probiotics Can Improve Mental Health?
Lactobacillus is a genus of bacteria that contains a variety of species that are symbiotic with the human body and can be found in the intestine, urinary and genital tract. Lactobacillus is usually found in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and yogurt. Lactobacillus is integral for the body as they help to break down the food consumed and also protect against pathogenic bacteria.
Bifidobacterium can be found in the moth and the intestinal tract. This is a type of anaerobic bacteria that helps to metabolize the carbohydrates in the intestines. It also regulates the intestinal microbial homeostasis, protects against harmful bacteria which can affect the gut mucosa, and can improve the gut mucosal barrier, lowering the levels of toxin lipopolysaccharide in the intestine.
Bacillus is generally known for its ability to form a protective spore that is resistant to heat, radiation, desiccation, and disinfectant agents. Species of Bacillus, the Bacillus subtilis, and Bacillus coagulans can protect against the pathogenic bacteria which, in turn, promotes the growth of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, maintaining the balance of the overall gut bacteria.
Probiotics Improving Mood, Memory and Cognitive Skills
The probiotics can also boost and improve the mood as they contain certain antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects. Lactobacillus Plantarum and Bacillus subtilis were found to increase the production of serotonin and acetylcholine which improved the mood, memory, and cognition of the patients.
Aggressive behavior was found to be reduced as dopamine and norepinephrine levels were increased alongside lowered cortisol which decreased anxiety levels.
Are Probiotics Effective?
Research is being conducted about which probiotics can help mental health patients and what is the exact effect they have. However, it is important to consult with a doctor prior to consuming any probiotics, even though probiotics are safe to consume in most cases.
It is important to note that it can be difficult to know which probiotics are best for anxiety as the research is still being done and progress is still being made. Adding probiotic foods to the diet such as yogurt, tempeh, miso and tofu can provide the benefits, but they are not a substitute for therapy, medication, or other depression treatments.