Probiotics hold plenty of benefits for the digestive system, but they could also act as psychiatric boosters to mental health.
Probiotics, found in supplements and in such foods as yogurt, sauerkraut and kefir, have shown in studies to have positive effects on moods.
Here are four ways research has shown that probiotics provide psychiatric benefits:
1. A French study in 2011 found
that subjects who took probiotics for 30 days had reduced levels of mental and emotional distress, according to Live Science
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Anxiety and depression may be relieved through probiotics, according to Dr. Joseph Mercola
, an osteopathic physician and alternative medicine advocate. He reports that altered brain function from probiotics was revealed in a four-week study by researchers at UCLA.
Women in the study who ate yogurt had decreased activity in regions of the brain that control the processing of emotion and sensation when compared with control groups following magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, scans. The scans were taken after they were shown images of frightened or angry faces.
Improved memory was found in men who took a daily capsule of probiotics for a month, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University College Cork in Ireland. The study also found the men reported less stress and anxiety, The Guardian reported
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The men’s stress levels and memories were tested when taking the probiotic capsules for a month and also when they took placebo for a month. Improvements in stress levels and memory were seen when taking the probiotics, according to Ted Dinan, the head of psychiatry at the college who led the study.
“When they were given these bacteria (probiotics) they were less anxious and their capacity to memorize material seemed to be enhanced,” Dinan told The Guardian.
Social anxiety may be relieved through probiotic-rich foods according to findings from a study of more than 700 students at the College of William and Mary, reported nutritionist and registered dietitian Cynthia Sass at Health.com
The researchers found that the consumption of probiotic foods, such as yogurt and sauerkraut, reduced symptoms of social anxiety.
Researchers say more studies are needed on the psychiatric benefits of probiotics.
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