The secret to improving your mood and brain health is in your gut, an unhealthy intestinal flora can impact your mental health, causing problems such as anxiety, depression, autism and more.

Probiotics improve the intestinal flora and the brain

Gut bacteria affect brain function and our emotional states

A recent trial study found that women who eat yogurt containing beneficial bacteria on a regular basis have impaired brain function compared to people who do not consume probiotics .

Just as you have neurons in your brain, you also have neurons in your gut – including neurons that produce neurotransmitters like serotonin, which is also found in your brain and is related to your mood.

Limiting sugar intake, eating fermented foods, and taking a probiotic supplement are some of the best ways to optimize your intestinal flora and subsequently boost your brain health and optimize your mood.

Bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microorganisms that make up your body’s intestinal flora actually outnumber your cells by 10 to 1, and it is becoming increasingly clear that these tiny organisms play an extremely important role in your health – both physical and mental.

The impact microflora has on your brain function has once again been confirmed by UCLA researchers, who through a proof-of-concept study found that probiotics (beneficial bacteria) altered brain function in participants.

Research confirms it

Researchers have known that the brain sends signals to your gut, which is why stress and other emotions can contribute to gastrointestinal symptoms. This study shows what was suspected but not proven until now, only in animal studies: that signals also travel in the opposite direction.

“Over and over again, we have heard from patients that they had never felt depressed or anxious until they started experiencing problems with their gut, ” said Dr. Kirsten Tillisch. “ Our study shows that the relationship between the gut and the brain is a two-way street. 

The study published in the journal Gastroenterology2 states that the discovery “has significant implications for future research that could point the way to improving brain function through dietary or drug interventions.” Naturally, it is recommended to stick to the dietary changes and not wait for some kind of “wonder drug” to do the work for you.

Your diet affects your brain function

The study included 36 women between 18 and 55 years of age and they were divided into three groups:

  • The treatment group ate yogurt containing many probiotics that have a beneficial impact on gut health, twice a day for a month.
  • Another group ate a “fake” product that looked and tasted the same as yogurt but did not contain probiotics.
  • The control group did not eat any products.

Before and after the four-week study, the participants underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) testing, both in a resting state and in response to an “emotion recognition task.” In the latter, the women were shown a series of images of people with angry or scared faces, which they had to match with other faces showing the same emotions.

“This task, designed to measure the use of the brain’s cognitive and affective regions in response to visual stimuli, was chosen because previous research in animals had linked changes in gut flora with changes in affective behaviors,” explains UCLA.

Interestingly, compared to the control group, the women who consumed yogurt with probiotics had increased activity in the two brain regions that control central processing of emotions and sensation.

According to UCLA

” The researchers were surprised to find that the brain effect could be seen in many areas, including areas involved with sensory processing and not just those related to emotions, ” says Tillisc.

There are studies that show that what we eat can alter the composition and products of the intestinal flora, in particular, in people with diets rich in vegetables and fiber, who have a different composition of their microbiota, or intestinal environment, compared to people who eat a more western diet, high in fat and carbohydrates, ”said lead author Dr. Emeran Mayer. “We now know that this has an effect not only on metabolism but also affects brain function.”

How to optimize your intestinal flora

Considering the fact that an estimated 80 percent of your immune system is in your gut, it is extremely important to “reseed” it with healthy bacteria in order to prevent virtually all illnesses, from a cold to cancer. To achieve this, the following strategies are recommended:

  1. Avoid processed and refined foods in your diet.
  2. Eat unpasteurized, traditionally fermented foods: Fermented foods are the best path to optimal digestive health, as long as you consume the unpasteurized and traditionally fermented versions. Some of the beneficial bacteria found in fermented foods are also excellent heavy metal chelators and pesticides, which will also have a beneficial effect by reducing their toxic load.

Healthy options include:

  • Fermented vegetables
  • Lassi (Indian yogurt drink, enjoyed before dinner)
  • Fermented milk, such as kefir
  • Natto (fermented soybeans)
  • Yoghurt
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut

Ideally, you should eat a variety of fermented foods, perhaps it is a good time to do your own research on the subject to maximize the variety of bacteria you eat. Fermented vegetables are a great way to deliver beneficial bacteria to your gut. And, unlike other fermented foods, they tend to be more palatable, if not delicious, for most people.

As an added bonus, they can also be a great source of vitamin K2 if you ferment them yourself with a suitable starter culture. High-quality, organic, fermented vegetable samples made from a specific starter culture typically contain with each serving, (about two to three ounces) not only 10 trillion beneficial bacteria, but also 500 mcg of vitamin K2, which now We know it is a vital co-nutrient of vitamin D and calcium.

Most high-quality probiotic supplements will not only provide you with beneficial bacteria found in home-fermented vegetables, but they are also the most economical route to optimal gut health.

Although taking supplements is not highly recommended (since the nutrients must be obtained from food) probiotics are the exception, if you do not like fermented foods then this is your best option.

Taking care of your intestinal flora is one of the bases of optimal health

More and more research indicates that the colonies of bacteria that live in your gut could play a key role in the development of cancer , asthma, allergies, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and even in brain, behavioral and emotional problems such as ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), autism and depression.

When you consider the fact that the relationship between the gut and the brain is recognized as one of the basic principles of physiology and medicine, and that there is much evidence that gastrointestinal problems influence a wide variety of neurological diseases, it is easy See how the balance in your gut bacteria can play a significant role in your psychology and behavior as well.

With this in mind, you should be completely clear that nurturing the gut flora is extremely important, from cradle to grave , because in a very real sense you have two brains, one inside your skull and one in your gut and each needs its own. own food.

Eating fermented foods should be your main strategy, but if you don’t like the taste of it, then taking a probiotic supplement is your next best thing. Look for a probiotic supplement that meets the following requirements, to ensure its quality and effectiveness:

  1. The bacteria strains in the product must be able to survive stomach acid and bile, so that they can reach the intestines alive and in sufficient numbers.
  2. Strains of bacteria must have characteristics that promote health.
  3. The activity of the probiotic must be guaranteed throughout the production process, the storage period and the shelf life of the product.
Dr. Eric Jackson

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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