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Can good bacteria affect your mood?

Most people are not aware that we humans have a ‘second brain’ in the gut! There are – stretched out along the digestive system - the same number of neurones as the brain of a cat. These two brains, the one in our gut, and the one in our head, are in constant communication. In other words, our gut influences our brain and the brain responds.

The bacteria which live in our gut are now known to be responsible for the production of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals), which help and support our mood and memory.

GUT BACTERIA HELP TO PRODUCE:

95% Serotonin (our happy brain chemical) is actually produced in the gut and then sent to the brain.

Dopamine production is also largely reliant on our gut flora – dopamine is important for motivation.

GABA an anti-anxiety neurotransmitter is also synthesised by good bacteria.

Therefore, the type pf bacteria living in our gut could have a huge impact on mood, motivation and memory. If the bacteria involved in the production of these neurotransmitters were depleted, this could lead to increased levels of stress, anxiety and depression.

Meaning that good bacteria levels play a vital role in the management of stress, anxiety and depression.

SO, COULD A PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENT HELP MY MOOD?

Potentially, the answer to this is yes, if you get the right combination. So, which good bacteria should you look out for?

Clinical trials have been carried out supplementing the diet of people who were struggling with low mood and anxiety, with a product combining different good bacteria: L. acidophillus, L. casei and Bifidobacteria bifidus. Those people who were taking this supplement reported significant improvements in their mood and motivation. (1)

Another bacteria which could be added to the list is L. rhamnosus. This probiotic has also been shown to have beneficial effects in the treatment of depression and anxiety. (2)

In my clinical experience, the ideal combination would be a blend of L. acidophilus, L casei, L. rhamnosus and B bifidum, with a B Vitamin complex which would further help to support healthy mood and mental performance. Using this combination for clients I have worked with I have found that these probiotics may provide the missing piece of the puzzle for many people struggling with long term anxiety or depression issues. It could also be a key combination for stressed, busy people who are feeling fuzzy headed or forgetful.

Blog post written by Jenny Logan DN Med, a nutritional therapist with over 20 years’ experience. Jenny also works as a technical advisor for Natures Aid.

RESEARCH REFERENCES:

  • The effects of probiotics on depressive symptoms in humans: a systematic review; Caroline J Wallace; Ann Gen Psychiatry 2017
  • Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behaviour and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve; Javier A Brails et al; Proc Natl Acid Sci USA; 2011

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