Probiotics have become hugely popular for their beneficial effects on the digestive system but, as research has shown, they can also be very helpful for symptoms of anxiety, low mood and depression.
Live Yogurts and probiotic drinks are two of the most popular ways of adding probiotics to our diet. But are these the best way of doing so? The team at Eastland Family Chiropractic who supply vital nutritional information to patients as part of their ongoing Chiropractic care say a resounding ‘No’ for two reasons!
- Many of these products are loaded with inflammatory sugars and other processed and refined ingredients.
- Because there are many different strains of probiotic bacteria and some are more beneficial than others when it comes to helping with a specific problem, getting sound nutritional advice will ensure that you are taking the right bacterial strain or combination of strains for your particular needs.
Do You Ever Have a ‘Gut Feeling’?
It will be helpful in understanding the benefits of probiotics to look at why our bodies need them. If you have ever experienced that flutter of butterflies in the pit of your stomach or had a ‘sinking feeling’ when you received bad news, you will already have discovered the Enteric Nervous System (ENT), the ‘Gut Brain’ or as it is often referred to. The ENT is directly connected to our brain, communicating information about the whole of the digestive system via a huge network of neurons.
The ENT has been the subject of a lot of research. It seems that it is responsible for regulating digestive processes such as how quickly food passes through our intestines, the levels of acid in our stomachs and the maintenance of the mucus coating lining all the tubes and passageways of our intestines. Interestingly, the research has shown that this ‘Gut brain’ monitors the balance between trillions of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ microbes in our intestines. At first, the right balance of bacteria and in sufficient amounts was discovered to help with the functioning of our immune systems and keeping our health in balance. Now it is becoming increasingly clear that gut bacteria have a vital role to play in maintaining our mental health too.
The Many Benefits of Probiotics
Having an imbalance in our gut bacteria, when the ‘bad’ bacteria start to get the upper hand or there are insufficient bacteria due (perhaps) to having to take antibiotics for a health problem, debilitating digestive problems can take hold. These include Ulcerative colitis, Irritable Bowel syndrome, Crohn’s and more. An imbalance in this microbiome, is also a factor in diabetes, obesity and Celiac disease.
More recently, researchers have been studying the link between an imbalance of gut bacteria and mental health issues such as low mood, and feelings of sadness, anxiety and depression.
Two studies in particular showed that probiotics could be extremely beneficial:
- A Canadian Study in Vancouver showed that eating fermented foods (which have high levels of probiotics) and taking exercise had the biggest effect in reducing levels of social anxiety among the group of students participating in the study. It was also interesting that students who were most neurotic gained the most benefit from the combination of probiotics and exercise.
- A Netherlands research project among young adults who experienced mood disorders found that among the group who received daily probiotic supplement containing eight different strains of ‘good’ bacteria, experienced lower levels of depression, anxiety and Cortisol, (the stress hormone).
How To choose The Right Probiotic Combination
As we mentioned earlier, not all probiotic strains are the same and some individual strains or combinations are better for specific health problems. Unfortunately, with the vast number of Probiotic products and supplements available, as patients at Eastland Family Chiropractic have reported, it can be hard to know which product to choose.
Thankfully, the team at Eastland are able to give a detailed assessment of your problem and advise, not just on the correct type of probiotic supplement for you, but also provide nutritional advice on probiotic-rich foods you can incorporate into your diet. Call Eastland Family Chiropractic (on 03 9095 7990), arrange your initial appointment and take your first step to feeling better, today.